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you're the trouble that i always find

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EXT. TRAILER PARK – NIGHT [COLD OPEN]

RAIN falls down, hard. For a second, it seems like a normal night at a normal trailer park. Then, a FLASH. We think it’s lightning, but a body FALLS from the sky and hits the top of a trailer, glancing off and falling to the muddy gravel. The figure GROANS, raises their glowing watch up to check the time, then STANDS.

GRACE

Where the hell am I now?

GRACE looks left and right, and lightning (normal lightning) STRIKES. It LIGHTS a parked car’s license plates just near her.

GRACE

Ohio. I hate Ohio.

TITLE SCREEN

THE WOLVES

-

“I knew it was a good idea to give you your own series,” Gordon says, slamming the pilot script down so hard that the Giants bobblehead on his desk rattles violently. Quinn doesn’t jump, mostly because violent movements stopped scaring her at some point in high school, thanks to Coach Sylvester. “This is brilliant, Fabray.” 

The studio exec’s propensity towards calling her by her last name only was interesting; she assumed it had something to do with either forcing an impersonal relationship or pretending she wasn’t a woman.

“Thank you, Mr. Belliout,” Quinn says, watching as Gordon starts tapping his fingers on the desk to the beat of the song that’s softly playing in his office. She recognizes it, of course, because it’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” There are too many songs she recognizes and starts counting dance steps too.

“I can’t believe it took this long for my assistant to even hand me this,” he says, standing up and shaking the heavy script as if it was a personification of his assistant. “This is gonna make you and I both rich!”

“Thank you, Mr. Belliout,” Quinn says again, then adds on: “I hope so.”

Gordon Belliout is the proud head of the Sony Entertainment Division. He is already rich, and his mansion in the Palisades has seven bathrooms. Quinn knows because she’s been there, celebrating a Golden Globe win for writing on Divisional Conflicts with the rest of the crew. Quinn has at least a few major awards on her shelf, and is not poor either.

“You get to work casting this girl,” Gordon says, setting the script down again and turning up the music. The classic rock station has rolled over to “Don’t Stop Believin’”, which nearly makes Quinn cringe.

“Jimmy and Lila are already in a casting session right now across the lot,” Quinn says, then starts to stand, because Gordon is now paying more attention to the music than her, his motivation clearly starting to leave him for the moment.

“You get to work casting her, Fabray, because she’s gonna be famous!” he says, then laughs almost maniacally. The awards and framed photos scattered behind him combine with the sound to produce a reminder of the tableau of Coach Sylvester’s office, which is amusing. One master for another.

At least the uniform isn’t so obvious.

The hallways of the executive building aren’t crowded, but as she rides down the elevator, more people start to appear. A few of them seem to recognize her, maybe, and she gives a wan smile at the ones who give her the same. She makes it into the lobby before her phone starts ringing – Sam is calling her.

“This is Quinn,” she says, and Sam starts talking immediately, ignoring the professionalism of introducing oneself.

“Quinn, dude, you won’t believe who I saw today,” he says, then gets waylaid, apparently, by one of his underlings. “No, I want the gold here and here, not here. I like where this one is going, bro!”

“Another Iron Man costume?” she asks, weaving around the film shoot taking place just outside the building from some sitcom.

“Another Iron Man costume,” Sam says, lamentingly. “Anyway, I was just coming back from lunch with Mercedes crosstown down near you, and I saw – whoa, why is there a statue of Darth Vader right in front of my office door? Adam, why is there a statue of Darth Vader - ”

“Sam, you can call me back in a few hours when Darth Vader has moved out of your way,” Quinn says, turning down an alley towards the office building they’re holding auditions at.

“No, Quinn, I’m trying to tell you about - ”

She hangs up, not out of spite, but mostly out of hurry – she gets to the door and pushes through, waving away the receptionist’s attempt to seem interested in anything but Facebook or Twitter. The elevator feels like it takes a millennia, but has enough reception to get a picture of Sam and his Darth Vader statue.

Jimmy is on his phone as well, hovering outside the door to the room, while Lila is staring out the window at the other end of the hall when Quinn gets to the floor.

“Hey, Q,” Jimmy says, slipping his phone into his pocket. Lila jerks around, then gasps excitedly.

“Quinn, we found her,” Lila says, rushing down the hallway to grab ahold of Quinn’s arms – an unnatural showing of physical touch from Lila, who Quinn was certain was a huge germaphobe.

Quinn looks over at Jimmy, who sighs, pushing the door to the audition room open after glancing around a little.

“She is pretty good,” Jimmy says, once the door is closed. The television is frozen on one image, of a girl with one hand on her head and the other glancing down at an invisible watch. It’s silly, but Quinn’s eyes don’t take that long to recognize the posture, the figure on the screen.

Her stomach absolutely hits the floor when Lila excitedly presses play, and the words – Quinn’s words, the ones she had written for her first, very own show – fall from her mouth.

“Ohio. I hate Ohio,” Rachel Berry says.

Dear lord in heaven.

-

“I was trying to tell you,” Sam says, shrugging like it’s really no big deal that Quinn’s had a glancing encounter with Rachel Berry and that her deputy on the writer staff and the producer of her television show are obsessed with her. He probably doesn’t think it’s a big deal; he and Rachel still chatted occasionally, had seen each other in the past three years, hadn’t had an enormously complicated relationship for multiple years.

“You should have tried harder,” Quinn says, throwing the weight ball at the trampoline up against the wall and catching it without rocking backwards.

“How was I supposed to know she’d audition for your television show?” Sam asks, wiping his face with his t-shirt, which was one of those cheesy t-shirts with supposedly majestic imagery of animals. It had fish on it, and had been a Christmas gift from Brittany.

“Because God is still punishing me for having a child at sixteen,” Quinn says, throwing the ball and catching it again. “And because that’s the kind of weird, incestuous glee club thing that would happen.

“Well, I was trying to tell you,” Sam says, simply, then shrugs, picking up the dumbbell on the rack and turning to look at Quinn while he started doing curls. The private gym in Quinn’s condo building was always spotless and lacked any other people interested in physical fitness – she suspected that this was because her building was populated by rich octogenarians. She and Sam sometimes met up for dinner and a workout and a movie on the nights Mercedes went out on the road.

“She looked pretty hot, though, right?” Sam asks, and Quinn pauses in her medicine ball throwing to level him with a stare that he’s probably not been on the receiving end of since high school, though he doesn’t wilt under it like he used to. “Hey, I’m just saying. I saw her for half a second, you saw her whole audition.”

“Even Jimmy liked her,” Quinn says, setting the ball back on the rack and promptly lying down on the mat to stretch out her legs. Sam hovers over her, his arms flexing as he curls up and down, up and down.

“Did you say you know her?” Sam asks, and Quinn sighs, gripping her knee and pulling it across her body to stretch out the tightness in her hamstrings. Her back cracked with the movement, shaking out soreness that tended to gather there after a long day on her feet.

“Everyone knows her, she’s won a Tony Award,” Quinn says, switching legs.

“You know what I mean,” Sam says, dropping his dumbbell back on the rack. “The whole, you know, you were her bully but also her friend and you were on a National Champion glee club team thing.”

“I don’t tell people that I was on a glee club team,” Quinn says, and Sam nods in agreement, swiping Quinn’s water bottle off the bench behind them and dousing himself with water. It’s such a boy thing.

“Well, telling them that to get them off your back for not wanting to cast her is better than saying that you were in love with her in high school,” Sam says, spraying water on Quinn’s face. She glares heavily, sitting up and wiping the water away.

“I wasn’t in love with her,” Quinn says. “Love would imply that I wasn’t an asshole to her every other day of the week.”

“So you were freakishly obsessed with her,” Sam says, sighing and reaching for Quinn’s shoulders, pressing them down from where they’ve crawled up near her ears. “She was freakishly obsessed with you! We were all freakishly obsessed with each other. It’s hard to explain, that’s all I’m saying.”

“It was almost ten years ago,” Quinn says. “It hardly matters now.”

“That’s where you’re wrong, my young padawan,” Sam says, shaking his finger back and forth in front of her face, then wraps her in a hug, picking her straight up off the ground and pulling her in tight enough that her back cracks.

“Thanks,” Quinn says, when he sets her back down. “I gave her a callback.”

“She’s Rachel Berry,” Sam says, smiling very gently, like he’s talking to a child. “Of course you did.”

-

“I’m sorry,” Santana says, tapping the side of her head and staring straight at the screen, while Brittany does some weird interpretative dance in the background of the Skype window. “What did you just say?”

“Rachel auditioned for my show,” Quinn repeats, shuffling papers around on her desk. Santana keeps staring, before reaching over to press pause on the music Brittany is using.

“We’re talking about Rachel,” Santana says, either trying to clarify or rub it in. “Rachel who I, for a whole month of us living together, fed glue by cooking it into her foods. Rachel Berry. A kids-sized shortstack of pancakes at IHOP, Rachel.”

“Santana,” Quinn says, trying to interject on the avalanche of insults Santana is apparently going to spin up today.

“Rachel Barbra Berry, whose wedding almost had you severed in half. Rachel who you erroneously voted prom queen,” Santana says. Brittany ducks forward into the camera’s view, waving at Quinn and frowning with her typical confused face.

“The Rachel you’re in love with?” Brittany asks, and Quinn sighs, settling her papers into a neat pile, wondering why she bothered to call at all.

“I’m not in love with her,” Quinn says. “I hardly know her now.”

“That isn’t true, you’ve seen her naked,” Brittany says, and Quinn tries very hard to control her reaction to the absolute untruth.

“I haven’t seen her naked,” Quinn says. “I was calling to just keep you guys updated on the gossip before Sam told one of you.”

“If you haven’t seen her naked, how did you draw those drawings in high school?” Brittany asks, curious and unfairly incisive. Santana smiles easily her third most evil smile.

“I believe that was all from her gay-ass imagination, Britt,” Santana says, then folds her fingers in front of her face, not bothering to rein in the huge smile. “So, the Berry Virus has come back into your life."

“You should tell her that you’re in love with her,” Brittany says, smiling and giving a thumbs up before dashing away at the sounds of their oven going off. Santana laughs.

“It doesn’t mean anything,” Quinn says, shrugging very nonchalantly. “She’s just auditioning. She probably won’t even make it to the final round.”

“Please. You and I both know Rachel Berry doesn’t do anything without committing to it two hundred and sixteen percent or something,” Santana says. “Even if she doesn’t get cast, she’ll somehow find your address and phone number. Her Christmas card this year, by the way, featured her in costume as famous women in history.”

“I saw,” Quinn says, sighing. “Sam and Mercedes got sent one.”

“And once she gets your phone number, she’ll send you these glee club-wide texts where she details her week,” Santana says. “It includes a list of songs she would suggest we each perform to reach our best selves.”

“She hasn’t tried to find my number and address before now,” Quinn says, shrugging. “I doubt that will change.”

“Doesn’t that just break your ice cold heart?” Santana says, then smiles in a way that is her closest version to nice. “You two are fucking weirdos, Q. Some hole opens up in the time-space continuum when you two get near each other, probably because she is, as I suspected, an alien who is slowly reaping humanity’s ears for a nefarious takeover attempt. You don’t call Auntie ‘Tana when it doesn’t mean anything.”

“I’m keeping you informed on my life,” Quinn says, trying to insist. Santana is not helping her initial panic reaction.

“That’s nice,” Santana says. “I can’t wait until your life news gets into Berry’s weekly updates and I can just have it all at once.”

“She doesn’t even know it’s my show,” Quinn says. “You just wait. She’ll go back to New York and the closest we’ll ever get to each other is when she writes ‘happy birthday’ on my Facebook wall.”

“Say it like you mean it, Q,” Santana says, just before Brittany accidentally confuses the power breakers for the lightswitch, again.

-

“I’m so excited for you to see her,” Lila says, drinking coffee at a rate that is honestly irresponsible. Jimmy is flipping through the sides of the script they’ve given for the callbacks, over and over again.

“We’re also seeing eight other actresses today,” Jimmy says, laughing at Lila. Having her on as the producer was an interesting experience for Quinn and Jimmy – both of them were rather levelheaded people, while Lila was near puppy levels of excited about everything. Probably all the coffee. 

“Who cares? She’s the one!” Lila says, tossing out Rachel’s headshot on the table. Quinn picks it up, flipping over the picture and reading the familiar biography and resume. Tony Award winner. An octave range that’s grown since Quinn’s last official knowledge of it. “I can feel it. She was born to play this part.”

Quinn had read through her first few scripts last night, after getting off the Skype call. Grace was a blend of toughness and eagerness, fighting through a complicated and sometimes frightening situation and always loving people, even when the world continuously knocked her down. Quinn had envisioned some of herself in Grace when she had written the character, but rereading had rewarded her with the uncomfortable knowledge that Grace was Rachel Berry when it came to tenacity and fire and an uncontrollable urge to insert themselves in any situation to help others.

It was disheartening to see that she had set out to write a strong female character and had come back with Rachel Berry with a sci-fi bent.

“And she can sing,” Jimmy says. “I listened to her cast album for the show she won the Tony for. She’s great.”

“Yeah,” Quinn agrees, because there’s been no denying that, even since Quinn was thirteen and just finding her way through the social hierarchy of McKinley High School. “She always has been.”

“Oh, are you a fan of hers? You do listen to a lot of Broadway,” Lila says, gulping coffee and glancing over at the clock as if she cannot wait for any more seconds for Rachel Berry to burst through the door.

“I went to high school with her,” Quinn says, sighing. “We were in glee club together.”

“What’s a glee club?” Lila asks, at the same time that Jimmy asks, “You were in a glee club?”

“It’s a like, school choir thing,” Jimmy says, waving away Lila’s apparently dumb question. “It’s pretty nerdy. Oh my God, you were in a glee club with a Tony Award winner? Is there video evidence of this?”

“Where did she go to high school?” Lila asks, flipping open her laptop and navigating straight to YouTube. Quinn frowns, reaching forward to try to knock it the laptop shut.

“Wait, it’s on Rachel’s headshot,” Jimmy says, grabbing the photo from Quinn’s hands and flipping it over. “McKinley High School New Directions. Wow, that name is terrible.”

“I didn’t pick it,” Quinn says, defensively. “Come on, don’t - ”

The sounds of “Don’t Rain on my Parade,” made tinny by the camcorder recording, bursts out of the laptop. Rachel’s voice is practically angelic, and Quinn sighs, sinking back in her chair. It’s hard to not slip back into that moment, being so frustrated and upset with Rachel, only to hear her let loose with this song.

“I’m not in this song,” Quinn says, and Lila promptly clicks on another song.

What have I done, wish I could run from this ship going under,” the new song sings, and Quinn very nearly throws Lila’s coffee at her face. Instead, she tries to very calmly speak.

“Can you please not play that song?” Quinn asks, very politely, but Lila turns it up instead.

“It says she wrote this one on her own!” Lila says, and Jimmy turns the computer so that Quinn can see the performance from a different perspective than she had originally seen it.

“That isn’t true,” Quinn says, clicking indiscriminately on another New Directions clip – who is archiving these? – and letting the somehow even more unhappy strains of “Faithfully” come on. She tries to change it again, but Jimmy grabs the laptop, smiling happily.

“I love Journey!” he says, which is the most excited thing she’s ever heard him say other than we won! on the stage at the Golden Globes. “What do you mean, that isn’t true? Is there like, songwriting doping going on in glee clubs across America?”

“This would make a great show,” Lila says, watching the performance taking place on her laptop screen. Finn and Rachel winding their way around each other, as always.

“I helped her write that song,” Quinn says, watching Jimmy emotionally twirl around the room to the song. “And it would definitely not make a good show. It was a mess. Can you click on any other songs?”

“It’s like you have PTSD,” Jimmy says, then apparently, at random clicks on something else when he twirls his way over to behind Lila’s shoulder. He somehow picks another bad apple out of the bunch. Quinn hears just enough of the song – “Here’s to Us” – to know she is not going to listen to any more of it, and closes the laptop screen shut. Rachel’s voice cuts out in the middle of a line.

“You better not have broken my laptop,” Lila says, sitting back in her chair and regarding Quinn with no small measure of curiosity. She has cultivated an air of professional mysteriousness; of course Rachel Berry is the one who ruins it.

“I will buy you another one,” Quinn says.

“Bad breakup? I don’t know if we can hire someone you awkwardly dated in high school,” Jimmy says, sitting down again and regarding Rachel’s picture. “She is kind of your type.”

“What? I wasn’t even out in high school,” Quinn says. “I dated every single boy on that team, and so did Rachel.”

“So you guys were like, high school enemies?” Jimmy asks. Quinn sighs, trying to settle herself.

“This would be a great show,” Lila says, and Jimmy nods in agreement.

“We were friends,” Quinn says, then frowns. “Kind of. It’s complicated. I was just telling you because – well. You know." 

“Well that was high school,” Jimmy says, patting Quinn very kindly on the thigh, clearly not understanding the awful pull that glee club somehow still exerts on Quinn’s everyday life. In accordance with that unnatural phenomenon, her phone buzzes with a message from Blaine, which says, CALL ME ASAP.

Great. Somehow the news got all the way to New York and Blaine, which means it is only seconds away from reaching Kurt, and then Rachel. This is probably Mike’s fault.

“She probably doesn’t even remember who you are,” Lila says, very nicely. Quinn shakes her head, laughing. She isn’t sure she and Rachel could forget about each other for a hundred years, the way their lives are all twisted up with each other.

“I doubt that,” Quinn says. “I don’t want to throw her off for her audition. I’m going to step out on her turn.”

“Quinn,” Lila says, less nicely and more producer-like. “You’re the head writer on this show. You can’t just step out on your show because of some high school drama that happened ten years ago.”

“I went to high school with Marcus Mariota,” Jimmy says. “He was in my math class, and we sometimes studied together. I don’t stop wishing he would get hit with a truck before we play the Titans.”

“That’s not a really accurate metaphor,” Quinn says, picking up her phone when she gets a text from Kurt. The snake winds closer.

“Who is Marcus Mariota?” Lila asks, frowning and looking back and forth between Quinn and Jimmy.

“He’s a quarterback,” Quinn answers, flipping the messages app open only to see Kurt’s message is practically a death nail. Rachel is really excited to see you! Please tell her that her haircut looks bad when she asks.

So tone deaf and typical for Kurt.

“Are you ready for us to start calling them in, Ms. Fabray?” the receptionist asks, having suddenly, quietly opened the door to the room. Quinn can see, through the doorway, figures hovering about. She doesn’t quite manage to make out Rachel (she is short, as Santana could beautifully paint for anyone who asked), but a cold feeling of doom settles about her throat. It’s awful.

Jimmy looks to Quinn, and Lila takes one look at her before handing her a bottle of water, which Quinn takes with shaking hands. Then, Lila says yes.

-

She pays almost zero attention to the other eight actresses. None of them are Rachel Berry – both in terms of Quinn’s nervousness and her respect for her own character. Lila is right. Rachel is the choice, and Quinn is certain of it seconds into the first girl’s audition.

Seconds after the door closes on the second-to-last girl, Jimmy takes the other girl’s headshots and shoves them unceremoniously into the file box they’ve taken with them. Lila hums in agreement, cracking her knuckles.

“She’s the one, Quinn,” Lila says, eyeing Quinn as she stands and spins her body around to get her back to crack. “God, your back sounds are gross. Remind me to never get t-boned by a car.”

“It was Rachel’s fault,” Quinn says, sitting back down and taking the last remaining gulp of her water bottle. “I was going to her wedding.”

“In high school?” Jimmy asks, looking up from the other headshots in the box for other characters. “Lila, I don’t know if it would make a good show anymore.”

“It wasn’t Rachel’s fault,” Quinn says, sighing. “I was texting. And she cried a lot, too.”

“Blame the groom then,” Jimmy says, laughing. Quinn frowns, tapping her pen on the notes page in front of her, which mysteriously consists of a bunch of lines and boxes she’s drawn in the margins.

“The groom is dead,” Quinn says, and Jimmy stops laughing abruptly.

“Rachel Berry is a widow?” Lila asks, quietly, like they’re standing over Finn’s grave.

“They didn’t get married,” Quinn says, starting to actually write on the pages. “I got hit by a car, and she wanted me at the wedding.”

“This is really confusing,” Jimmy says.

“Can you just do your bat-signal thing and call her in? I just want to get this over with,” Quinn says, trying to step away form Jimmy’s line of inquiry. Lila looks at Quinn, and Quinn stares back, eventually deadening it so much that she’s sure she reaches sub-zero, Head Cheerleader levels.

Lila hits the page button, telling the receptionist to let the last one in.

Quinn holds her breath.

The receptionist pushes the door open, holding it for Rachel Berry, who (it seems to Quinn) attempts to walk as slowly as possible. This isn’t an a problem of anticipation, in Quinn’s mind, but more that Rachel is walking slowly so that she doesn’t come across as eager. The familiar placement of her hands clasped in front of her body, the duck of the head when she says thank you to the receptionist. Those are all things Quinn knows, and thought she had forgotten.

When Rachel picks her head up from watching her feet, her eyes immediately jump to Quinn. It’s a shocking moment, and Quinn doesn’t even know what face she forms to acknowledge Rachel – she assumes it is somewhere on her “emotional lockdown” range of facial expressions (a term coined by Mercedes). Rachel smiles, smiles her beautiful smile, the kind one that followed Quinn around at the worst possible moments.

The very sight of it makes Quinn, probably in some Pavlovian way, want to cry.

“Hello,” she says, sparing two singular glances at Jimmy and Lila. “I’m Rachel Berry, and I will be auditioning for the role of Grace, last name as-yet-undetermined.”

Jimmy looks at Quinn and raises one surreptitious eyebrow. Lila spouts some directions, and Rachel listens intently, nodding along until Lila reads off one of the lines of dialogue.

“Who are you?” she says, her producer voice in full effect. Rachel has already slouched a little, her normally perfect posture drifting away as she settles into the character.

“I’m Grace,” she says. “That doesn’t really matter, though, Seever. I was sent here to help you.”

“I don’t need help,” Lila says, flipping the page. Rachel glances around at whatever invisible room she’s in, in her head, and reaches for one of the spare chairs, slowly pulling it over.

“Why do you have a gun out, Seever?” she asks, so nicely and sweetly and whispery and so near to Quinn that it feels like she’s standing in the bathroom at McKinley High School, crying about something again with Rachel Berry.

“I was going to shoot the person intruding in my house,” Lila says. Quinn doesn’t dare move for a second as Rachel sits in the chair, slowly, right across from Quinn. Her eyes remain focused on Lila.

“You were going to shoot yourself,” Rachel says. “I’ve thought about that before.”

“Get out of my house,” Lila-as-Seever says.

“I can only leave when I’m told,” Rachel says. “What’s wrong? You seem like a good kid, in a nice house. I saw your diploma down the hall. I saw a picture of you and your friends.”

“You don’t know me,” Lila says, emotionless. But Rachel is bringing it, making the dialogue feel real.

“I don’t,” Rachel says. “You’re right. Your parents could be awful, your diploma could be fake, your friends could be people you haven’t seen in years. I do think you shouldn’t shoot yourself though.”

“Why?”

“I work for an organization,” Rachel says. “They send me to help people. I don’t know how they choose who deserves it any given moment. I could be working for God for all I know. But they sent me here. Someone cares to make sure you keep going, Seever.”

Rachel keeps going, leaning forward, reaching a little across the table, her smile drifting back, so kind.

“Let me help you.”

“Cut,” Quinn says, sighing and sitting back in her chair. Jimmy and Lila look at her, Lila with an enormous smile bursting across her face. “I think we’ve seen enough.”

Rachel looks at her curiously, her mouth starting to open to protest.

“Quinn, I have prepared all seven scenes provided to me for this audition, and I have prepared them immensely well. I would appreciate being allowed to finish them before - ” Rachel starts, and Quinn winces at having provoked a lecture.

“Ms. Berry, I think Quinn here is trying to tell you you’re hired,” Lila says, and Rachel’s head jerks over to look at Lila in confusion before jerking back to Quinn. Rachel just stares at her, in an entreating Rachel way, the way that always seems to scream, just talk to me Quinn.

She tilts her head to the left, and gives a half-second smile.

Rachel practically bursts out of her chair, squealing in happiness. Jimmy jumps up too, apparently provoked into excitement by the human sparkplug in front of them. Lila cheers. Quinn stands slowly, as Rachel listens to the compliments Jimmy is spewing at her while he shakes her hand. Lila tells her that they’ll get in touch with her agency about shooting schedules and the like to nail everything down, and Rachel shakes her hand too.

“Thank you,” Rachel says, sticking out her hand for Quinn to shake. It looks very alien, considering they’ve hugged at least twenty times in their lives. But Quinn takes it, because she has managed to not make a scene before this moment, and she doesn’t intend on causing one now.

Rachel’s hand is small and warm. It feels, actually, like it’s made of lead and on fire, but Quinn shakes it anyways.

“Thank you, Rachel,” Quinn says. Within seconds or hours, Rachel is gone from the room with a flounce, and Quinn is just in an air-filled room with Jimmy and Lila, who are happily hugging around her.

“Congrats, Quinn, you’ve got your star,” Lila says, and Quinn cracks her neck in response. It’s pretty annoying, how even the word star tends to provoke an unwelcome cascade of memories.

“And it wasn’t even weird,” Jimmy says, grabbing Quinn in a tight hug that she finally unwinds enough to hug back for.

“She talks a lot,” Lila says. “Did she always talk that much?”

“When she’s nervous,” Quinn says, grabbing her bag after Jimmy lets go of her. He reaches for the file box, happily placing Rachel’s headshot in the front folder. Lila takes her coffee mug and sips at it (how can there still be coffee there?).

“Kind of friends, and you still remember that stuff,” Lila says, then laughs. “I can’t even remember my first high school boyfriend’s name. I think I have memory loss.”

“It has to be all the coffee,” Jimmy says, gently, while pulling open the door. They don’t make it even into the hallway before Quinn actually senses, like Spider-man, Rachel’s presence hovering there. They turn toward the elevator bank, and there she is.

“Oh, awkward,” Lila says, laughing. “We should have waited longer.”

“Hello,” Rachel says, smiling and looking straight through Jimmy and Lila to look at Quinn. Quinn looks over as the number of the elevator rises, getting up to the floor.

“Are you on a timeline?” Quinn asks, which is the second sentence she’s spoken to Rachel in years.

“I leave tomorrow,” Rachel says, smiling even wider, clearly happy Quinn is speaking to her at all. It bothers Quinn how easily she can see that.

The elevator arrives, and Jimmy and Lila shuffle in, carrying the file box and bags. They look at her expectantly. Quinn starts to move forward, but Rachel’s hand lands on her arm, and Quinn shutters to a stop, turning to look at Rachel. She’s looking at Quinn with her big brown eyes, her hair soft and like the way it was when they were sophomores (which is not bad, Kurt). She looks older, obviously, but it doesn’t feel that different.

That’s what she had been trying to tell Jimmy and Lila. It’s been ten years, and she still feels sixteen when Rachel Berry looks at her like that.

“Go ahead,” Quinn says. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”

“Gotcha,” Jimmy says, pressing the door close button. After they’re gone, Quinn turns fully to face Rachel.

“Hello, Quinn,” Rachel says, pulling her hand back closer to her body and smiling very gently. Quinn tries to force a smile on her face, but it doesn’t come easily.

“Hi, Rachel,” she says. “How are you?”

“I’m doing rather well,” Rachel says. “I won a Tony Award recently.”

“I sent you flowers,” Quinn says, laughing. “I won a Golden Globe.”

“We’re both rather successful, as I had predicted,” Rachel says. Quinn laughs, remembering all the times Rachel had insisted on that.

“I didn’t believe you,” Quinn says. “But it was nice to hear at the time.”

“Why haven’t you talked to me in four years?” Rachel asks, very suddenly, crossing her arms. Clearly, they’ve crossed some sort of threshold. “Clearly, you are still capable of it. We were friends, Quinn.”

“Kind of friends,” Quinn says, jamming the elevator down button and rolling her eyes. How are they already arguing?

“We were friends,” Rachel insists, shouldering her bag and stepping far too close to Quinn. “I know a lot of hard stuff happened with Finn, and Puck, but I thought that we were going to be something more than I’ll-send-you-flowers-if-you-win-an-award type people. Even Brittany and Santana, who never references me by my actual name, call me every week.”

“Brittany calls you,” Quinn says, tapping at the wall as she taps into the music softly playing overhead. It is, annoyingly, an acoustic version of “Go Your Own Way,” by Fleetwood Mac. This happens way too often – they sang way too many songs in that damn club.

“Brittany calls me, yes,” Rachel says, and Quinn listens without looking as Rachel’s annoyed foot tapping catches to the beat as well. “And so does Tina, Mercedes, and even Noah, when he isn’t too busy slaughtering pigs for fun.”

“He runs a travel company in Hawaii, luaus are a part of their culture,” Quinn says, sighing, annoyed that she’s defending Puck at all. “You could have called me, too, Rachel.”

“You wouldn’t have answered,” Rachel says. “That’s rather clear right now, because you won’t even look at me. We are going to have to work together for the next few years, so you might need to work on that, unless you intend to quit your own television show.”

“I’m considering it,” Quinn mutters, rushing into the elevator when it finally arrives. Rachel follows after her, still lecturing away.

“I know we were never best friends, Quinn,” Rachel says, shuffling a little in the smaller elevator space. “But I thought that we were working towards that, and then, all of a sudden, we weren’t. You dropped off the face of the earth."

“I grew up,” Quinn says. The elevator opens to the floor below them, and a dude takes one look at Quinn before he hesitates on entering. “You can catch the next one.”

She jams the close door button in his face, and Rachel steps straight into her space like Quinn stepping minutely closer to her was in invitation.

“I always thought that when we grew up we could really be friends,” Rachel says, much quieter and in a way that makes Quinn want to hit her head on a wall. She clenches her fist though, ignoring the crinkly, shivery feeling spooling at the base of her spine. Rachel was always like this, always looking at Quinn like she was somehow better and shinier than she was, always making Quinn like –

“I thought that once we got out of Lima, once you got to Yale, you’d find yourself and be happy and not worry so much about being popular and crushing my spirits, and that we could finally have a normal conversation with each other,” Rachel says, now starting to ramble. “And you’d realize we weren’t so different, and that it didn’t have to be so complicated.”

Dear lord, she should have let that man into the elevator. The door dings open again – this time a crowd takes one look and genuinely turns away to keep talking as the door closes slowly in front of them.

“Rachel,” Quinn says, slowly, trying to tamp down the frustration. Rachel just doesn’t understand, hasn’t understood for a while.

“Why won’t you even look at me?” Rachel demands, and Quinn finally looks at her in response, mostly out of an urge to prove Rachel wrong with whatever she’s implying. Rachel looks mad, her usual annoyed-at-Quinn face firmly entrenched across her features. Something about it had always fueled Quinn’s own annoyance even higher. Rachel’s cheeks were flushed, her brow low, a permanent pout on her mouth. She was beautiful, of course.

Quinn certainly wasn’t looking because of hatred, like Rachel seemed to think. It was ridiculous, and it had always been ridiculous.

“Rachel,” Quinn says. “I like your haircut.”

Rachel cocks her head to the side, looking at Quinn with curiosity. Her cheeks get a little redder, and Quinn smiles softly.

“I lost touch,” Quinn says. “That’s my fault. But I didn’t do it for any reason.”

That’s a lie, of course. The way her brain is memorizing Rachel’s familiar features all over again is proof of that. She had thought she was done with all this, for God’s sake. That had been the whole point.

“I forgive you, as always,” Rachel says, uncrossing her arms as they reach the bottom floor of the office building. “I just wanted to air my frustrations before they exploded at an inappropriate juncture in our working relationship.”

“Yes, thanks for not making my show famous for an angry actor YouTube video,” Quinn says, nodding at the receptionist. She throws her sunglasses on as she pushes out into the sunshine, glancing up at the enormous Sony Pictures rainbow stretching over the lot.

“I’m very excited about this show,” Rachel says, following Quinn even though she’s certain Rachel has to go the other way to her car. “When my agent sent me the script sides, I was enthralled. I mean, I obviously thought highly of it considering I left a production of RENT on the table.”

“You wouldn’t win another Tony for playing Maureen,” Quinn says, ignoring her phone’s ringing. Rachel keeps pace with her, as she always has.

“I think this show could win us both Emmys,” Rachel says. “And you’re right, it wouldn’t. I’m surprised you could guess which part I was offered.”

“I did listen to your monologues about which Broadway parts you were best suited for when I had nothing better to do,” Quinn says, reaching her car and unlocking it, throwing her bag in the backseat.

“I’m very proud of you, Quinn,” Rachel says, and Quinn stops, staring over the hood of her car at Rachel, who is smiling very softly. All of a sudden, Quinn really just wants to cry. It feels the way it always did, because God really is punishing her for having a child at sixteen. “I’ve always been very proud of you, of course. You were always so brave, having a child at sixteen, leaving your home, recovering from your accident, leaving Ohio for Yale. Now all this.”

Rachel looks around the studio lot, like it’s Quinn’s own personal playground. Quinn just stares at Rachel, very thankful she’s wearing sunglasses. She should have stuck with those longer in high school.

“You deserve to be this successful,” Rachel says, smiling. “I’m excited to help you reach a new pinnacle.”

It is an unfortunate reflection of Grace’s lines from the pilot, something that doesn’t escape Quinn’s notice. She looks down at the silver of her cartop before looking back up at Rachel, trying to scrounge up a reaction other than tears. It’s always tears with Rachel.

“You’ve always helped,” Quinn says, finally, and Rachel looks at Quinn like she’s just told her that she’s won eighteen Tony Awards all at once. “Listen, I have to go – write, and stuff. But I’ll email you, okay? About things – other than work. We can work on the whole, friends thing.”

“You say it as though it’s a foreign concept,” Rachel says, smiling and stepping away from the car, finally relinquishing space to Quinn after a whole ten minutes of this conversation.

“I’ve never been very good at it,” Quinn says, laughing a little, trying to shake herself out of the heavy feeling around her. Rachel smiles.

“You were good at it when you tried to be,” Rachel says. 

-

“I can’t believe you’re still into the queen of Munchkinland,” Santana says. “God, it was disgusting in high school and now it’s just sad.”

“I’m not,” Quinn says, sighing and taking a drink from the whiskey coke she poured for herself. Mercedes, who’s listening in on the Skype conversation, literally starts howling with laughter, like Quinn has said the funniest possible thing. “Can you – not?”

“I’m sorry, Quinn,” Mercedes says, poking her head out of her kitchen and squinting at the Skype screen. “You’re just freaking the hell out over the same girl you’ve been freaking out over forever.”

“I don’t even know who she is anymore,” Quinn says, trying to insist to both Mercedes and Santana, who both look incredulous.

“She isn’t that different,” Mercedes says. “She still thinks the sun shines out of your ass.”

“She doesn’t know who I am anymore either,” Quinn says. “She never really knew who I was.”

“Quinn, listen, my hot wife will be home at any moment from her dance classes, I have zero seconds worth of time for your high school existential angst,” Santana says, clapping at Quinn like it will get her on task or something. “You and Berry should just bang. That’s how we solved our antagonistic relationship!”

“You hit me in the head with a cutting board last Thanksgiving,” Quinn says, while Mercedes makes fake gagging noises at the mention of Quinn and Santana’s night of debauchery. “I have a scar.”

“You insulted Brittany’s cooking,” Santana says, checking her nails. “I’m just saying. Maybe you would get over your weird mental block and stop being Berry’s great lost treasure if you’d just fuck her like you’ve wanted to since you were wearing Cheerio skirts and proclaiming your Virgin Mary pregnancy.”

“I didn’t even know I was gay, Santana,” Quinn says. “And I’m certainly not going to tell her that she was the catalyst for my sexual awakening now!”

“I’m insulted, one,” Santana says, actually physically counting with her fingers. “Two, I’m going to have to insist that you solve your Rachel Berry problem, because you two’s weird, crazy psychodrama is, as it has always been, too much for me, a problemsolver from Lima Heights, to handle.”

“Santana, your parents were doctors,” Quinn says, as Mercedes laughs in the background.

“Girl, she’s right,” Mercedes says. “I get not being able to figure it out in high school, because we were all idiots, and weird and crazy shit went down. But you and Rachel were always on some other level of weird and crazy. Remember when her mom adopted your baby?”

“I had forgot,” Quinn says, deadpan.

“’Cedes here is just saying what I told you a week ago,” Santana says. “The time-space continuum literally cannot handle you and Berry in the same universe.”

“And none of the rest of us can either if you don’t figure it out at some point,” Mercedes says, shrugging. Sam comes in the front door quickly thereafter, toting a binder and wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses.

“Is that the original Trouty Mouth?” Santana asks, and Sam quickly rushes into the camera space to say hello to Santana. “Hey, Trouts, remember when Quinn and Rachel were weird?”

“Which time?” he asks, and Quinn hits him lightly on the back of the head. Mercedes kisses the space to heal it up, Quinn supposes.

There’s a loud crashing noise behind Santana, and then a bunch of barking. They all manage to see Santana’s eyes get incredibly large as she turns around to look at what Quinn imagines is Brittany toting a dog.

“Is that a dog?” Santana asks, very loudly and incredulously. Quinn hangs up.

-

Quinn watches as Rachel settles into her chair, which is inconveniently placed next to Quinn’s own chair. Lila watches too, before she hits Quinn on the arm.

“I googled your glee club some more,” Lila says, and Quinn sighs, looking away from Rachel as she starts talking to her co-star.

“Wonderful,” Quinn says. She can tell already where the discussion is headed.

“You were national champions! That’s pretty crazy, right?” Lila says, and Quinn nods, shuffling from one foot to the other.

“We were really good,” Quinn says, shrugging. “Rachel was really good.”

“You were pretty good, too,” Lila says, nudging at Quinn. “I didn’t know you were such a good dancer.”

“Surprise,” Quinn says, and then glances over again only to find Rachel gone. On the one hand, that’s helpful, considering she doesn’t have to consider how nice Rachel looks in the jeans and cardigan she’s gone for. On the other hand, she’s certain that Rachel is somehow about to upset her life once again.

“I was rewatching your performance where you guys did Journey,” Lila says, and Quinn sighs heavily, realizing Lila is officially entering wow-you-were-very-pregnant territory.

“We did do Journey quite a lot,” Rachel says, suddenly appearing right at Quinn’s left elbow. “Eventually there was a bit of a revolt, actually. Our teacher, Mr. Schuester, was chasing his glory days, and we wanted to forge our own path, you understand. We lost that year because Jesse St. James, a Tony Award winner, was leading a group and performed a very intense version of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which is obviously a risky song for a young choir to attempt, but they were very well trained. I could pull up the video for you now, actually, Jesse gave it to me once so that I could remember his one and only victory over me - ”

“Actually, I think Jimmy is waving me over,” Lila says, stopping Rachel from reaching into her pocket. “Maybe some other time.”

Jimmy is not waving Lila over, but he accepts Lila’s presence with ease. Rachel giggles, stepping into the spot opposite Quinn with a sly smile.

“You Berry-ed her on purpose,” Quinn says, and Rachel very seriously shakes her head. 

“I heard a little bit of your conversation,” Rachel says. “I assumed by your expression you were uninterested in discussing Drizzle.”

“Do not,” Quinn says, very seriously. Rachel just keeps smiling.

“It’s a codename,” Rachel says, and Quinn shakes her head.

“I know Shelby actually calls her that sometimes,” Quinn says, and Rachel nods, laughing a little at Quinn’s annoyed expression. “I hope Finn is happy.”

“I’m sure he is,” Rachel says, her expression not straying too far away from pleasantness at the introduction of the often-controversial name. Even Santana, on the wrong day, tends to drop out when she hears Finn’s name, and Santana hadn’t been about to marry the boy at some point. “I saw Beth recently, actually. Shelby came to New York for a visit. She’s very sweet, Quinn.”

“She gets it all from Puck,” Quinn says, and Rachel laughs very loudly this time, drawing the attention of much of the room. She is, of course, magnetic, mellowed out just enough to not seem as overbearing as she used to be.

“While Noah and I are both Jewish and therefore are close genetically, I think you are far more beautiful and certainly sweeter than he is,” Rachel says, and Quinn sincerely considers walking out of the room to take a lap around the floor of the office building. It bothers her, how irritated and altogether disrupted she feels when Rachel unleashes compliments like that.

“We should sit down,” Quinn says, but Rachel is, of course, sitting right next to her at the rehearsal table, so she follows along.

“Do you happen to know any good places to get a rental apartment or home?” Rachel asks, settling in her chair and reaching for the complicated beverage regimen out in front of her of tea, some weird throat thing, water, and gross green drink.

“You shouldn’t rent something,” Lila says, sitting on Quinn’s other side, jumping into the conversation easily, now that the threat of a Rachel Berry performance breakdown doesn’t hover over her. “You’d be better off crashing with a friend until you can get an actual house or condo. I think we’ll be at this for a while.”

She holds up the pilot script quite triumphantly, and Quinn blushes, because, even though Lila has been a huge cheerleader throughout this whole process, it never ceases to amaze her that such a seasoned producer has latched onto her. Rachel smiles, nodding like she agrees.

She probably does agree. God, she should have taken that lap.

“You should get a condo in Quinn’s building,” Jimmy says. “Are we talking real estate?”

“Rachel is scoping out the housing market,” Lila says. “Where are you staying now?”

“Just at a hotel,” Rachel says. Quinn feels the next wave of Rachel Berry-fucking-up-her-life coming over her very suddenly.

“What? Quinn has a super nice extra bedroom, with a balcony and everything,” Jimmy says, reaching around Lila to punch at Quinn’s arm. She fixes him with a glare that freezes his arm mid-extension.

“You should send me some pictures,” Rachel says. “I doubt I’d be able to afford your condo, but perhaps the owners have other high-quality buildings around town.”

“You should stay at my place until you find your own,” Quinn says, casually enough that it arouses no suspicion from any onlooker but Rachel, who is, of course, well-versed in Quinn’s system of communication.

“I don’t think you would much enjoy that,” Rachel says, which is just – well, it’s wrong. It’s wrong, and right, and Quinn interrupts whatever nonsense Rachel was going to spout after that.

“It’s only temporary, right?” Quinn says, looking Rachel in the eye and urging her not to question the situation right now. Rachel slowly closes her mouth, before nodding in acknowledgment and smiling.

“That’s very nice of you, Quinn,” Rachel says, and Quinn laughs a little.

“It’s a new thing that I’m trying,” she says, and then she turns out to face the cast and crew assembled. “Let’s get started, everyone.”

-

Quinn wakes up a week later to the sound of Rachel singing. She knows it’s Rachel even before she remembers that Rachel had just moved in the night before. She recognizes something about the voice, echoing down the long hallway of her condo and filtering through her door. Rachel isn’t belting – she’s gained some manners since living with Santana and Kurt, apparently. It sounds as though she’s just puttering around in the kitchen, singing to herself.

Quinn had never imagined waking up to hear that voice.

She sits up, very slowly, unwillingly opening her eyes. Her room is shining with light – they have a late call time to set, for a night shoot. Her clock tells her it’s around nine, which seems late for Rachel – Quinn had heard plenty about her intense morning routine throughout high school, usually accompanied by a reminder to the club to put more effort into choreography.

Rachel is still singing by the time Quinn makes it into the kitchen. She’s cooking, too – making something that looks vaguely like pancakes.

“What are you making?” Quinn asks, and Rachel jumps, gasping and glaring at Quinn when she spots her. She’s wearing workout clothes, so maybe she had managed to make it to the gym safely despite Quinn’s haphazard tour of the building last night.

“Don’t sneak up on me like that,” Rachel says. “They’re vegan pancakes. Would you like some?”

“I’m fine,” Quinn says, reaching for her Keurig and turning it on so it will start heating up. “If you were cooking some bacon, maybe. Should I even be trusting you with my stove? Didn’t you light something on fire once?”

“That was years ago,” Rachel says breezily, turning away from her pancakes to frown at Quinn and the gently humming Keurig. “Those are very bad for the environment.”

“I don’t use the pods,” Quinn says, moving around Rachel to reach for the jar of ground coffee beans in her fridge. This is all autopilot, though Rachel’s presence is a new factor – her body manages to avoid Rachel’s space, as it always has. “Your pancakes smell weird.”

“More for me,” Rachel says, very happily, flipping one over and pouring a new one in the pan next to it. “Are you excited for our first day?”

“Sure,” Quinn says, pulling a mug down from the cabinet and pressing pour on the machine in front of her. She watches it start to trickle out, then glances over at Rachel.

The sunlight from her kitchen window is backlighting her, and Quinn is quickly distracted by the camera-ready quality of Rachel’s figure in shadow against the bright Los Angeles morning. She feels her hand and heart clench at how easily and distinctly she sees it as Rachel and not just a beautiful figure.

She tunes back in from her reverie to realize Rachel is talking.

“…and I assume this is all old hat for you by now, considering this is your third television show, but I’m actually kind of nervous! That’s probably fine, though, I’ve been nervous almost every time I’ve performed, even in glee club and when I was assuredly the most talented one on the stage,” Rachel says, and Quinn grabs her now full cup of coffee and sitting at the kitchen island, rubbing her eyes while Rachel keeps talking.

“I remember how you used to get nervous before big performances, as well! Especially before nationals,” Rachel says idly, pulling one pancake off the griddle and flipping the other.

“The one where I was having a nervous breakdown or the one where I had been hit by a car two months before?” Quinn asks, suddenly tired at the thought of Rachel noticing her. Maybe she shouldn’t have left her room – plugged her ears up and stayed asleep.

Rachel pauses, and then turns to Quinn.

“I hope you don’t still blame me for that,” Rachel says, softly and sadly. 

“For the nervous breakdown or for the car crash?” Quinn asks, trying to be flippant. Rachel doesn’t quite see her humor (as has been the pattern for years), and frowns even more deeply. “I never blamed you for either of those things. And even if I had, I’ve grown up, and I know better now.”

“You are different,” Rachel says, and Quinn glances up from her coffee to watch Rachel as she steps slightly closer, towards the kitchen island. She resists pulling backwards. “You were always so much more put together than the rest of us, but now you’re - ”

Rachel seems to stop, and survey her. Quinn can’t quite look away.

“ – well, you’re calm. Happier. It suits you,” Rachel says, smiling. Quinn doesn’t feel particularly calm, draining the rest of her coffee before standing abruptly from the island.

“I’m going to go back to sleep,” Quinn says. “Late shoot and all that.”

“Did I say something wrong?” Rachel starts to ask, and Quinn snaps straight back into her usual irritated-by-Rachel self quite suddenly.

“No, you didn’t say anything wrong, Rachel,” Quinn says, realizing her tone should be adjusted quickly so Rachel actually doesn’t think she’s said something wrong. She breathes in.

“Sorry,” Quinn says, rolling her shoulders. “You didn’t say anything wrong. Thanks for the compliment. If I’m not awake by noon, just sing outside my door really loudly.”

Rachel nods slowly, clearly trying to understand Quinn’s rapid movement through moods. Whatever conclusion Rachel will come to eventually is probably near enough to accurate that the conversation regarding this moment will be absurdly like pulling teeth.

By the time Quinn closes her bedroom door and sinks against it, trying to center herself and just chill, like Sam constantly tells her too, Rachel is singing, very softly, again.

-

“Are there any similarities between working on Broadway and working on a TV set?” the reporter asks Rachel, his phone hung out in the space between he and her, while Quinn watches with Jimmy from a bit away.

“No,” Quinn says to Jimmy, half out of exasperation – what kind of ridiculous question is that? The other half is largely because this reporter clearly has no idea who Rachel is other than a half-second Googling.

“Not really, no,” Rachel says, throwing a look over her shoulder at Quinn to indicate that she had heard her own response. Quinn has never cowed under any such looks from anyone, excluding Rachel Berry. So she sidesteps over to the camera bay, watching the dailies they’ve just filmed.

They’ve moved onto their second episode, with Rachel enjoying a quick and seemingly seamless introduction to the world of Los Angeles television. Seamless in the sense that Rachel was as professional as ever, accepting the demands of a major network’s shooting schedule and the complexities of an everchanging script and environment.

What isn’t seamless is Quinn’s anxiety every time she sees Rachel’s shoes tidily placed next to her front door, ducks all lined in a row, near enough to Quinn’s that someone might mistake them as all from one shared collection. The way that Rachel has tried to institute bonding nights that leave Quinn exhausted, trying to ignore the way Rachel Berry makes her feel.

As ever, the mix of feelings is all-consuming. It’s easier to see what’s at the heart of it than it was when she was seventeen – but it isn’t easier to deal with. She had thought she had reckoned with Rachel Berry sometime ago. But it was clear enough that she had simply avoided a stimulus and taken it for a cure.

“You’re a rookie television star working with a rookie showrunner in Quinn Fabray – do you think you two can work together make a great show?” the dude asks, and Quinn doesn’t miss the glance Rachel throws her, of consideration and a little bit of annoyance with this man.

“Well, I think Quinn’s written a great show,” Rachel says, shifting in her seat. She’s still in costume, wearing tight black jeans and a bright white t-shirt. It’s so unlike the vision of Rachel that lives in Quinn’s head, but it works a disturbing amount. “I, of course, have to show up with my end of the deal. But if I do, I think we’re creating something very special here.”

“What convinced you to leave Broadway for this show?” the guy asks, and Rachel tilts her head back and forth, clearly weighing her words and impatience.

“Well, I was interested in expanding my horizons,” Rachel says, sounding like a kid just out of college applying for a job. “I thought the script was wonderful when it was given to me. I didn’t know it had been written by Quinn, actually, but once I found out – I felt it was a project I had to be a part of.”

Quinn tilts her head forward and then backward at the neck to encourage a crack. She hates hearing this kind of nonsense. As nice as it is to be complimented on her scriptwriting, it always sounded like a necessary piece of the PR machine.

“Of course, Quinn and I went to high school together, so I have a unique vantage point on her growth as an artist and such,” Rachel says, smiling and sitting back into her chair, clearly settling into some sort of groove. “I’m very proud of her, and I hope that I can do good enough work that she’d be proud of me too.”

Quinn ignores Jimmy’s fake teary eyes when he pops his head over the screens of the camera bay and hands her a coffee. She takes it, trying to ignore Rachel finishing up her interview, drifting away from topics like herself and toward her thoughts about her character and letting the man understand what show she won a Tony Award for.

“She’s proud of you, Q,” Jimmy whispers, as Rachel is very loudly saying goodbye at the reporter. “That’s beautiful.”

He’s joking of course, but Quinn knows Rachel wasn’t joking. That’s the problem, in the end. Rachel never joked with or about Quinn.

“Can you tell Greg that we’re about to get back into shooting?” Quinn asks, summarily dismissing Jimmy’s presence from the video village. He disappears again, as Quinn stares blankly at the dailies they have so far. She senses Rachel’s arrival far before Rachel announces it.

“I hadn’t realized that television reporters were so vapid,” Rachel says, sitting in the other chair next to Quinn and leaning back only slightly. Her jeans conform tightly to her legs as she settles them on the notch in the chair. “I should reevaluate my favorite interviews.”

“I wish I was shocked that you had favorite interviews,” Quinn says, leaning sideways and making sure her sunglasses were firmly over her eyes as she stared at the dailies replaying in front of them. Rachel is running around, talking on her phone in some of them.

“Ms. Fabray, do you have time for a few questions?”

The reporter has drifted back, apparently directed her way by someone. He seems like a nice boy, even though he’s asked some stupid questions. Quinn nods, tilting her head to look at him. He sets his phone right on the arm of her chair, suspiciously close. She feels but doesn’t see Rachel shifting next to her.

“So is it true that you and Rachel here went to high school together?” he asks, and then he smiles brightly. He’s latched onto the obvious angle; Quinn is not shocked in the least. But she also doesn’t want to talk about this for the next two years. But she does care about her show, so she smiles and tries to answer without answering.

“Yeah, it is,” she says, shrugging. “Though that didn’t really factor into Rachel getting cast.”

“Any stories from back then?”

“Not too many that need to be printed in Entertainment Weekly.

“But you saw her talent even back then? Did you ever think, ‘hey, that girl’s a star?’”

Quinn tries to restrain her sigh, but looks down at the dailies playing in front of them as the scene starts to come together beyond video village. Rachel is about to get called to places.

“Well, everyone did,” Quinn says, and she intends to stop there, really. But she doesn’t.

“She was so crazy talented and – she deserved to get out of our tiny Ohio town more than any of the rest of us. She inspired me to go to Yale and get into theatre and writing. I feel really lucky that I got to pay her back by casting her.”

They call for places, and Quinn watches as Rachel slowly climbs out of the chair, not looking at Quinn. The reporter says his goodbyes, and gets ushered away by one of the PAs.

Fuck.

-

“What you said, earlier today,” is how Rachel starts the conversation, leaning against the metallic interior of the elevator. Quinn carefully reshoulders her bag, checking her phone when it buzzes. Puck has just sent her a photo of another celebrity at one of his luaus.

“Rachel, I’d really rather not go down an emotional foxhole,” Quinn says, tired and also resigned to the fact that she is living in a permanent emotional foxhole.

“You said that I inspired you,” Rachel says, clearly intent on ignoring anything Quinn says.

“You did. I have no idea why that would be surprising.”

The elevator door opens, and Quinn starts walking purposefully towards her apartment door. Rachel follows, because Rachel lives here, with Quinn, right now.

Fuck.

“Well, you always inspired me,” Rachel says, and Quinn can tell that Rachel means this, like she means everything. “You were so smart, and brave.”

“I ordered slushies to be thrown at your face,” Quinn says, pulling out her keys and popping the door open. “I don’t think that counts as bravery.”

“You ordered them?” Rachel asks, now looking confused and sad. Quinn sighs, dropping her keys on her kitchen counter and setting her back there as well.

“This is what I meant when I said emotional foxhole,” Quinn says, kicking off her shoes. Rachel does the same, arranging them neatly by the door. “Of course I ordered them. I was a jerk.”

“You weren’t a jerk,” Rachel says, and Quinn sighs even harder now.

“I was an asshole,” Quinn says. “You don’t need to pretend that I wasn’t.”

“You were sad,” Rachel says. Quinn cracks her neck.

“That isn’t an excuse,” Quinn says.

“It’s an explanation that makes it less awful,” Rachel says, smiling softly, as though she’s enjoying this roundabout discussion. Quinn is not enjoying it.

“Rachel, I practically tortured you. The fact that you were nice to me then was insane, and you really don’t need to be nice about it now,” Quinn says.

“I’m not just being nice,” Rachel says, shrugging. “I forgave you a long time ago. It was all understandable, looking back on it. You were going through a lot, what with your…past, your family. Beth. I didn’t exactly help things.”

An understatement so severe that Quinn nearly rolls her eyes into the back of her head.

“That still isn’t an excuse. And I don’t want to talk about it, either,” Quinn says, brushing past Rachel and moving down her hallway toward her office. Rachel, of course follows her.

“Technically, you brought it up,” Rachel says, trailing after Quinn as she settles into her office chair. Her computer screen springs to life on her background photo of the New York skyline. It had been one of the defaults. “I was just trying to – I was surprised. That’s all.”

“You shouldn’t be,” Quinn says, trying to un-tense her shoulders. She can still see Rachel’s reflection, hovering in the doorway. “I’m pretty sure I told you more than once that you were better than the rest of us.”

“I thought you didn’t want to talk about it,” Rachel says, coming further into the office and sitting down on the sofa in the room. Her hands fold in her lap.

“I don’t,” Quinn says. “You’re right.”

Rachel sits there, a moment longer.

Quinn is playing through all those moments in her head, all the times she tried to tell Rachel. All the ways she tried to show her. God, she was a fucking idiot.

Her phone starts ringing. Her computer shows the name: Judy Fabray. Rachel tries not to react to it, but Quinn can still see her head cock sideways at the computer screen.

Quinn picks up her phone and answers, effectively ending the conversation.

“I’ll let you be,” Rachel says, and she quickly heads out of the office, closing the door.

“Who was that, Quinnie?” her mom asks.

“It was just Rachel,” Quinn says, and her mom actually gasps.

That Rachel?” her mom says, and Quinn sighs, preparing for a long discussion.

-

“Have you told her?” Sam asks as they walk through the hallways of the Marvel Entertainment building, towards their glorious cafeteria. The nerds in the building are bustling around them.

“I’m not going to tell her,” Quinn says, shrugging. Sam laughs at her.

“She’s going to find out somehow,” he says. “Kurt is probably trawling YouTube right now for interviews with you. You know there’s probably one somewhere where you say something vaguely LGBT-friendly, or where one of your exes is staring at you adoringly in the background.”

“Kurt should get a hobby,” Quinn says. “Neither of those things would mean anything on their own.”

“Kurt has a sense,” Sam says, and Quinn laughs this time.

“I’m not going to tell her I’m gay. She’ll just think all of my high school behavior was a result of my closetedness,” Quinn says, following Sam through the doorway to the cafeteria. They enter the line, right behind someone with an enormous Spider-man tattoo on his arm. “Whether it was or not, I don’t need her thinking that.”

“Quinn, have you ever considered that maybe some of her stuff was because of her own latent gayness?” Sam asks and Quinn laughs even harder. It comes off a little bitter. “Don’t laugh! I heard that Broadway people are very flippy-floppy about their sexualities. Plus, I don’t know, it takes two to be as weird and intense as you two were.”

“Everyone was weird and intense in high school,” Quinn says. Sam nudges her.

“True, but Rachel let you treat her like crap on and off for years and still wants to be your best friend,” Sam says. “That’s pretty weird and intense.”

“Thanks for reminding me,” Quinn says. Sam picks up a lunch tray and hands one to her as well. She takes it, flipping it over and over in her hands.

“I’m just saying. Mercedes told me yesterday this whole story about Rachel threatening to break into her house when you were staying with her family if ‘Cedes didn’t let Rachel in to give you this weird belly rub or something. It just reminded me of how crazy Rachel was when it came to you,” Sam says. Quinn sighs at the reminder of that time in her life.

“It was an anti-stretch mark cream,” Quinn says. “She read me the whole list of ingredients to make sure I wasn’t allergic to any of it.”

Sam just stares at her knowingly.

“I’m not going to tell her. If she finds out, I’ll…figure it out as it happens. Okay?”

Sam stares some more, but doesn’t say anything about the subject for the rest of their lunch.

-

“Okay, are you sure you’re comfortable doing this scene?” Lila asks, talking to Rachel, who’s wearing a tight pair of pants and a sweater that vaguely reminds Quinn of high school Rachel. Thankfully, the sweater doesn’t have any animals on it.

Quinn hadn’t remembered that she had written this scene until a week ago. It hadn’t meant too much to her, really, having her main character be bisexual, and she had largely forgotten in the midst of the Rachel-living-with-her-and-bothering-her-day-and-night problem. But she had remembered quite suddenly when she saw the call sheets come through.

Santana had laughed at her for ten minutes when she recounted the event.

The girl they had cast for Rachel to make out with – the scene was literally just Grace and this girl making out in an alley before Grace is stabbed – was very pretty. Her hair was blonde, and she was idly checking her phone while her hair was being adjusted around her face.

Rachel was nodding confidently at Lila, smiling easily.

“I’m an actress,” Rachel says. “And it’s not exactly hard to kiss a beautiful woman.”

Lila laughs, and Quinn stares forward at the camera bank, where the cameras are set up to capture this small, but important, moment for Grace and the show. It feels like she’s swallowed a rock.

“Quinn, are you okay?” Rachel asks, and Quinn nods, trying to seem serene. Rachel seems to want to press the issue, but the director calls for places. Lila settles into the seat next to Quinn and claps excitedly while the director blocks Rachel and the girl for the scene, talking to them quietly.

“This is exciting,” Lila says. “A bisexual character. We’re really lucky to have Rachel do this.”

Quinn nods again, blinking. It probably doesn’t count as a blink considering her eyes are closed for a bit longer than necessary.

“Are you actually okay? You look like you’re about to throw up,” Lila says, patting Quinn on the arm to get her attention. “I’m going to have to ask you to not throw up on the monitors.”

“I’m fine,” Quinn says. In front of them the director cues the rain machine, and it starts pouring in front of them. He calls action, and she can make out that Rachel and the actress are giving lines, just before they begin kissing.

It’s an odd, out-of-body experience. Quinn is watching Rachel Berry kiss a girl, after years of considering kissing her herself. Well, years of pushing away the thought of considering it. Quinn’s kissed girls before. She knows what it’s like.

Rachel Berry has kissed girls before as well. It’s obvious, in what Santana would probably peg as a gaydar way. It’s fantastically obvious, and something about it rocks Quinn to her core. The only reason she doesn’t get up and do a fifteen minute jog around the location is because it would disturb the acting – whatever acting can be gleaned from this makeout. The second the director calls cut and the rain machine shuts off, Quinn is up and away.

She barely makes it ten minutes before Rachel finds her, squirreled away behind the makeup trailer, looking through her Twitter absentmindedly.

Rachel has a towel wrapped around her, and Quinn can see beneath it that she’s shucked off the jacket she was wearing for the scene.

“Hey,” Rachel says, then eyes Quinn as though she isn’t sure exactly how to approach what she’s going to say next. Quinn decides to act preemptively.

“I’m just feeling a little sick,” Quinn says, shrugging. A notification comes through on her phone, from Blaine. He’s just texting to see if his message will go through from a certain spot in the subway. She sets the phone down on the trailer step next to her.

“Do you need me to take you home?” Rachel asks, her foot toeing the line between them very carefully. Quinn tries to pay no attention to it.

“You can’t leave,” Quinn says, gesturing back in the direction of set. “You have to get stabbed now.”

“Quinn, has something made you upset or uncomfortable?”

Rachel’s face is so confused, so unaware of what’s actually happening here that Quinn resolves to never, ever make herself available for days where Rachel is going to have to makeout with someone ever again, until she feels like she’s over this. And she should be over it, right now. Not being over it was a failure of the highest level. No matter what kind of universe-melting bullshit existed between her and Rachel Berry.

“I’m fine,” Quinn says, one more time.

-

“We should talk about what happened on set,” Rachel says, legitimately the next morning, while Quinn is sipping her morning coffee at her desk. They have a week off. It’s been twenty minutes of consciousness and its already not going well.

“I felt sick,” Quinn says. She gulps her coffee, scrolls through her emails. Watches as the second monitor switches to a slideshow. “I don’t know why we have to talk about that.”

“You were uncomfortable with the scene we were filming,” Rachel says, and she takes in a deep breathe, one that usually heralds a long Rachel Berry rant. Quinn isn’t quick enough to intervene.

“In fact, I believe you were uncomfortable with the scene involving me kissing another woman,” Rachel says. Quinn stares at her. “Which is disappointing. I know that you were raised in a conservative household, but I felt that you having written the scene would have indicated your open mindedness. In fact, I had never felt you were homophobic in high school, so this has always been rather surprising. Kurt encouraged me to confront you about your reactions yesterday, and so I am doing so now.”

“Of course he did,” Quinn mutters, looking away from Rachel and to the slideshow on her computer. One of the pictures flipping around is one of her and her ex, Delaney, and she shakes the computer awake.

“What do you have to say for yourself, Quinn?” Rachel asks, crossing her arms in front of herself. Quinn notices for the first time that she’s wearing a t-shirt from glee club.

Quinn stares at her some more, before sighing.

“I have legitimately seen Santana and Brittany make out at least once a day for the past ten years of my life,” Quinn says, and Rachel sighs as well.

“I can see why that would put someone off from LGBTQ people, Quinn, but it shouldn’t - ”

“Rachel, that was an expression of my tolerance,” Quinn says, shaking her head. “I felt sick yesterday. I’m sorry if you thought that meant that I was being a judgmental bitch again, but I’m not.”

“Knowing gay people is not an expression of tolerance,” Rachel says, stomping her foot like an actual child. Quinn blinks a few times. “Ronald Reagan knew gay people.”

“Well, they were mostly closeted,” Quinn mutters, taking a drink from her coffee. She should have stayed in her room. She could have avoided arguing about Ronald Reagan with Rachel fucking Berry.

“Are you saying that you would prefer LGBTQ people to remain closeted?”

“Oh my God,” Quinn says. “Rachel, I work in Hollywood. I talk to the media relations people from GLAAD every day about my own show. I’m not a homophobe. I’ve met your dads!”

“You met my dads once!” Rachel says, then accusingly looks at Quinn. “You said they were gay!”

“They are gay,” Quinn says, standing up from her desk and staring down at Rachel. “I was high on morphine in the hospital after fracturing vertebrae in my spine!”

“Don’t use that as an excuse,” Rachel says, pointing at Quinn. Quinn’s immediate impulse is to knock her hand out of the air, but she doesn’t. She’s trying to be a nice person.

“It isn’t an excuse,” Quinn says. “Rachel, if I hate gay people, I’m clearly doing a good job of hiding it. What do you care if I do hate them?”

“It’s the principle of the thing,” Rachel says, now shouting. Quinn’s neighbors are going to complain about her “shrill” new roommate again. “Kurt told me - ”

“Screw Kurt,” Quinn yells back, and Rachel points at her as if that’s somehow proof of her gay hatred. This time, Quinn does knock Rachel’s hand out of the air, about as gently as she can manage at the current time.

“I’m a bisexual woman, Quinn, and I won’t stand to be friends with a homophobic jerk,” Rachel says, and Quinn, in the midst of feeling like she’s been hit over the head with a mallet, actually laughs.

“Yeah? Well tell Kurt that I’m gay. Quinn Fabray is a lesbian, and that he can get off his damn high horse, for once in his life,” Quinn says, grabbing her cup of coffee and stalking past Rachel, who is standing there in the middle of her office with a face approaching absolute shock.

“Don’t you dare sing a fucking note of “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” or “Perfect” or “I Kissed a Girl” at the announcement, by the way,” Quinn says, just before she slams the door to her bedroom.

-

At least eight hours later, after Quinn has talked to Santana, Brittany, Mercedes, Puck, and Blaine, there’s a knock on the door to her bedroom.

The conversations had moved thusly: Santana had laughed. Brittany had smiled, and said something about the alignment arriving soon, which Santana had explained was about astronomy. Mercedes had talked to Quinn much more effectively, claiming that it was good that Quinn had told Rachel and that she would talk to Kurt about his prying. Puck had distracted Quinn by explaining his dating situation, which included at least two mother-daughter pairs. Blaine had called to make sure she was okay.

Quinn opens the door to see Rachel standing there, looking deflated and like she had been crying.

“Quinn, I’m so sorry,” Rachel says, immediately, as though she expects Quinn to slam the door in her face. If she was seventeen, she might have. But somewhere in his commentary on his sexual mistakes, Puck had mentioned that sometimes you had to just accept that shitty things had to happen. He had been referencing pig death for his luaus. But it applied here.

Quinn retreats into her room, sitting on her bed and closing her laptop. Rachel follows after automatically, but seems to take stock of the room around them.

“It’s fine, Rachel,” Quinn says, watching as Rachel seems to narrow in on a picture of the glee club seeing Rachel away at the train station. It’s one of the strangest memories of Quinn’s life, but it had felt important to keep the pictures Mr. Schue had tearfully handed out to them.

“It isn’t fine,” Rachel says, but then becomes even more distracted by another photo on the shelf of Brittany carrying Quinn up a set of stairs. “What is this from?”

“It’s from a drunken night at Yale,” Quinn says, sighing. “I tried to hug a lamppost.”

“That’s…kind of funny,” Rachel says, smiling softly, picking up the photo for a moment before setting it down. “I don’t know you at all, do I?”

Quinn shrugs, looking down at her bed as Rachel moves down the bookshelf where Quinn keeps various knick knacks.

“Did I ever? Did you know you were in high school?” Rachel asks, picking up a different photo, this one of Finn. He’s making a funny face, just about to jump into Quinn’s pool back home. Quinn shifts uncomfortably on the bed, before shrugging again, trying to loosen her shoulders up.

“Towards the end,” Quinn says. “I had…a lot of feelings floating around in my head. It took a while to sort out what they all meant.”

“Kurt was unsurprised by my news,” Rachel says. “I suspect he manipulated me into goading you.”

“Yeah, well,” Quinn says, “he had a hunch. He could have just asked.”

“You kept it from me,” Rachel says, looking at Quinn.

“I don’t go around announcing it to people,” Quinn says. “I didn’t tell Santana until I slept with her. And I only told her after.”

“You…slept with Santana?” Rachel asks, her eyes going wide.

“At Mr. Schue’s wedding,” Quinn says, amazed that Santana somehow managed to keep this a secret for years and years. She should send her a bunch of flowers, or a golf club set or something.

“Oh my God. I knew she was lying when she said that that hickey on her neck was from a suction cup.”

“I can’t believe you believed that,” Quinn says, laughing softly. Rachel smiles.

“Quinn,” she says, and then stops, looking at Quinn seriously. It’s not a totally comforting look, but Quinn looks back at Rachel anyways.

“Do you remember when we sang “Here’s to Us”?” Rachel asks, and Quinn stops smiling. This is not a good conversation to get mired in.

“Not really,” Quinn says. “Retrograde memory loss type thing, from the car accident.”

“How did you figure out you liked girls, in high school?” Rachel asks, stepping just slightly closer. Quinn tries to not reflexively recoil. It’s clear that Rachel has gathered a hint, for the first fucking time in their whole lives.

“Well, I was around girls in short skirts for most of it,” Quinn says, which is both true and vague enough that Rachel couldn’t possibly gather real meaning out of it. “Plus, it became pretty obvious after I didn’t particularly enjoy kissing boys.”

Rachel looks like she’s about to keep asking questions, but Quinn’s phone rings. It’s her mother again. Thank God.

“Hey, mom,” Quinn says.

“Quinnie,” her mom says. 

-

“Why are you coming on this flight with me again?” Quinn asks, watching Rachel struggle through the crowded airline clubhouse with her enormous suitcase. “Why did you pack so much stuff for a three day trip?”

“You needed emotional support,” Rachel exclaims, knocking her suitcase into someone’s chair. Quinn finally grabs ahold of the wayward bag so she can steer it properly through the club to an empty spot at the bar.

“My dad died of a heart attack,” Quinn says. “I haven’t talked to him for more than ten years. I’m going to bury him, get drunk in celebration with my mom, and go home.”

“That’s not very…kind,” Rachel says, settling at the bar with Quinn.

“Yeah, sorry, I never reformed the father-hating part of myself,” Quinn says, deadpan. “It got worse."

“I mean, he was awful,” Rachel says, accidentally kicking Quinn in the shins. “But still. I suspect you will feel some psychic pain.”

“Remember how you didn’t know me four hours ago?” Quinn asks, getting the bartender’s attention and ordering a whisky. Rachel orders a sweet-sounding blackberry brandy.

“I decided that I’m going to change that,” Rachel says, shrugging. “Now there are no barriers between us and we will be friends, once and for all.”

Quinn imagines that if Rachel knew how much Quinn liked it when Rachel got the annoying, determined look on her face, that she would prefer some barriers.

“You said you were bisexual,” Quinn says, just as the bartender drops their drinks in front of them. The dude doesn’t even look shocked to hear that. Quinn looks out over the lounge, past Rachel’s shoulder. There’s a girl with enormous headphones bobbing her head, a businesswoman looking at her phone. Nothing that can distract Quinn from this discussion.

“I am,” Rachel says. “Looking back on the high school experience, it’s obvious, but I can’t say I really entertained the idea until my final years at NYADA. I had quite the crush on Santana, I think. And you.”

Quinn takes a too-large gulp of her whisky and almost chokes.

-

“She said she had a crush on me?” Santana asks, her voice crackling across the phone. “That kind of makes me feel shitty.”

“She cried,” Brittany says, and Quinn can imagine that Santana had momentarily loosened her grip on her phone. 

“That is not true,” Santana says.

“I don’t care about that part,” Quinn says, whispering vehemently into her phone. Her mom is watching Real Housewives on television in the other room, and Quinn is just trying to survive in godforsaken Lima, Ohio, hopefully for the last time.

“Yeah, yeah, Berry had a crush on you,” Santana says. “That surprises me less than her having a crush on me. I mean, maybe not. I am a hot Lima Heights badass.”

“Santana,” Quinn says, trying not to start shouting at her best friend. “Rachel Berry.”

“Mike Chang,” Santana says. “Are we just naming people we knew in high school? Q, get over it. She was into you in high school, you were too. Get into her pants or don’t.”

“You are the least helpful person I know,” Quinn mutters, hanging up on Santana before she gives out some new piece of useless wisdom. When she gets back into the living room, her mom is watching the television with some amusement. It’s clear she’s been listening to Quinn’s conversation.

“It’s nice having you around,” her mom says, reaching for Quinn’s hand. Quinn lets her take it. “Reminds me of you wandering around the house whispering into the phone.”

“Well, I was pregnant,” Quinn says, shrugging and sitting down on the couch next to her mom. “It called for a lot of secrecy. Also, there was that phase of Brittany’s where she insisted that people only talked to her at a whisper.”

“Ah, yes,” her mom says, throwing her head back and laughing. “I remember that phase. Your father refused to participate.”

“Santana poisoned him,” Quinn says, laughing as well. “Remember how he got the stomach flu after he yelled at her?”

“I always liked that girl,” her mom says, grabbing Quinn’s hand and slapping it. “I saw Rachel Berry’s Instagram post this morning. You can’t hide it from me, Quinnie.”

“Why do you follow Rachel on Instagram? When did you get an Instagram?” Quinn asks, pulling her hand from her mother’s and rolling her eyes.

“Your sister shares photos on there of your nieces and nephew,” her mom says, looking at her with admonishment. Quinn rolls her eyes again. “That isn’t the point, Quinn. Rachel Berry came with you to Lima.”

“She forced her way with me,” Quinn says. “She was standing right in front of me when you called.”

“Is there anything you want to tell me?” her mom asks, staring at Quinn with her bright blue eyes. Quinn laughs, knocking her head backwards against the couch cushions.

“I’m afraid your one true dream of Rachel Berry being your daughter-in-law is not imminent,” Quinn says. “We’re just friends.”

“Interesting,” her mom says, flipping the channel in front of them to the local news. Apparently, Sue Sylvester is running for mayor again, and claiming that she will stop all pigeon drug-running operations within moments of her election.

-

The next day, Quinn gets a phone call around nine from an exuberant Rachel Berry, who claims that she’s going to take Quinn to the Breadstix Brexfast special, which Santana once called, “the first meal of the day choice of a champion.” Quinn snapchats her a photo of the sign, and is looking at Santana’s swift reply – a photo of her flipping the camera off while the dog licks her hand – when she notices that they’ve driven past the entrance.

“Rachel, where are we going?” Quinn asks, though the existential dread running through her veins is enough to convince her that she knows where they’re going.

“Mr. Schue called me yesterday after he saw my Instagram post,” Rachel begins, and Quinn groans, sinking into the seat of Rachel’s dads’ car, watching as the familiar scenery passes by. Lima has not changed nearly enough.

“Does everyone have an Instagram but me?” Quinn asks, and Rachel nods, very seriously.

“You should consider getting one, Quinn, it’s very important to be engaged on social media,” Rachel says, then continues onto the other, devastating thing. “Anyway. He asked if we would meet with the glee club.”

“He asked if you would talk to the glee club, you mean,” Quinn says, pointedly.

Rachel shakes her head, looking Quinn in the eye.

“He asked for both of us, Quinn. You shouldn’t doubt your own self-worth or how successful you would be to a high schooler,” Rachel says. “I agreed, and now we’re headed there.”

“Why didn’t you ask me?” Quinn asks, glaring out the window.

“You would’ve said no, and I think you could influence some of the students,” Rachel says, shrugging.

“Rachel, me saying no should be the end of the conversation. It’s like, consent 101,” Quinn mutters, picking up her phone and snapchatting a photo of a Lima road sign to Sam, Mercedes, and Brittany. They pull into the parking lot. “This is why we were never friends in high school. Because you’re a bulldozer.”

“I can take you back home if you want,” Rachel says, turning to look at Quinn. Quinn taps her fingers on her phone before sighing, popping the car door open. Sitting in this stupid parking lot reminds her of all the times she cried here.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Quinn says, and Rachel squeals excitedly in response, grabbing Quinn by her coat arm and pulling them towards the doors, as though Quinn has no idea where they’re going. She shakes her arm loose, but Rachel doesn’t seem to mind, launching into a complex breakdown of the resident glee club’s talents and failures.

Quinn mostly doesn’t listen, signing into the guest log just moments before Mr. Schue barrels out to meet them from the principal’s office.

“Rachel! Quinn!” he yells, right in their faces. His enthusiasm is way too much, but Quinn smiles wanly as he takes her by the shoulder and looks both of them over. “Oh my gosh, it’s so good to see two of the stars of my first ever glee club.”

Twelve years ago, Rachel probably would have insisted that she didn’t share stardom with anyone. But at the moment, she just smiles at Quinn so brightly that Quinn frowns in response.

“Come on, let’s go meet the club!” he says, leading them down the hallways. It’s awful, of course – Quinn had intentionally left memories of McKinley behind, only appearing back when it was called for over the years.

“Quinn, I’m so sorry for your loss, by the way,” Mr. Schue says, as they pass by the library entrance. Quinn has an unfortunate memory of Rachel grabbing her hand there flash through her head.

“I’m not particularly sorry, but thanks,” Quinn says, jamming her hands into her coat pockets and watching the hallways pass by with no joy or sense of nostalgia. Rachel, who’s bumping into her occasionally smiles as Mr. Schue laughs uncomfortably. It’s a cute smile, one that Quinn is not interested in having noticed. She looks away just in time to see her old English classroom, where she and Rachel had once got into a heated debate of interpretation over Hamlet.

It had been a tiresome week, to say the least.

“Well, thanks for stopping by all the same,” Mr. Schue says, turning the corner towards the choir room. “The kids were so excited to hear that you guys were coming. They love your old show, Quinn.”

“Hopefully they like the new one, right?” Rachel asks, nudging at Quinn, clearly trying to get her to smile. It’s annoying, and Quinn’s irritation spikes.

“You ready for this?” Mr. Schue asks, and Rachel nods excitedly. Quinn tries to control her annoyance for another three seconds, before he pushes open the door and a group of about twelve kids stops chattering excitedly to stare at them like zoo animals.

“Hello New Directions!” Rachel says, way too exuberantly. Quinn tries not to roll her eyes, filing in after her and Mr. Schue, gravitating towards the piano and looking over the room and the group of people in it.

There’s a plaque with Finn’s face on it tucked away in the corner, next to the wall of trophies – one of the larger ones is, of course, theirs. Seeing Finn’s face in this room that made him so happy is a weird shock, one that Quinn couldn’t have anticipated. But she tries to move on, pulling a half-smile on her face as she looks out on the kids, who don’t look too different from her friends.

There’s five Cheerios in the room, all in various states of fascination with Quinn – one boy, four girls. There’s one girl in a varsity jacket sitting in the front row, holding hands with a boy with glasses. There’s a boy in a varsity jacket who reminds Quinn so seriously of Puck that she tries to recall if he has another half-brother out there. There’s one girl sitting in the corner of the room, holding a book and looking at Rachel curiously, and there’s another girl sitting near her without being next to her, and Quinn finds herself focusing on her. The other three members are clumped up in a circle, looking like they’ve put way too much effort into their clothes for the day.

The whole group choruses back a hello to Rachel, and Mr. Schue takes over.

“As you all know, we’ve got two original founding members of New Directions in the hiz-house,” Mr. Schue says. Quinn winces at his use of the phrase “hiz-house.” It wasn’t cool when he was in his thirties, and it certainly isn’t cool now, ten years later.

“This is Rachel Berry, Tony Award winner and brand new star of a television show called The Wolves,” Mr. Schue says.

“Airing in September,” Rachel says, her smile now at showmanship levels. Quinn knows she can’t keep up with that, just starts tugging her jacket off and setting it on the piano.

“And this is Quinn Fabray,” Mr. Schue starts to say, but is interrupted by one of the Cheerios.

“Two-time national champion cheerleader and captain of the Cheerios, two-time Emmy award winner, Golden Globe winner, and one-time glee club national champion,” one of the girls says, intensely and somewhat creepily. “Allegedly dated a Whiffenpoof.”

“I never dated a Whiffenpoof,” Quinn says, crossing her arms. “Who are you?”

“This is Hannah,” Mr. Schue says, like he’s used to dealing with Hannah being insane but was not prepared for her to be insane in front of others.

“I’m your biggest fan. I’m the captain of the Cheerios,” Hannah says, standing proudly and actually saluting to Quinn. Good lord, why did she agree to this?

“Anyway,” Mr. Schue says, interrupting the moment and looking from Quinn to Rachel to the group. “I thought that maybe you guys would have questions for Quinn and Rachel. Not questions that are creepy, Hannah.”

Hannah sits back down, crossing her arms and glaring at Mr. Schue. Rachel laughs, pulling off her coat to reveal a sweater with a fucking horse print all over it. Quinn considers sticking her head into the piano and letting it fall on her.

“I have a question,” one of the too-well-dressed ones says, raising his hand. He glares over at Hannah, who glares back. “For Rachel. Hello, I’m Aaron Graham Hill. What’s your ideal Broadway role?”

“Probably Evita,” Rachel says. “I’ve always found the passion that Eva Peron approaches her people really reflects my devotion to my audience, and so I’ve often identified with her ambition and the near-universal hatred she experienced.”

“Is it true you both dated Finn Hudson?” the boy in the varsity jacket asks, just before the boy down in front with the glasses turns and glares at him. “What? He sounds like he was a cool dude.”

“He’s dead, Jensen,” the boy says, and Quinn laughs suddenly. Mr. Schue looks at her like she’s lost her mind, but Rachel is smiling as well.

“Yes, we both dated him,” Rachel says. “He was a cool dude.”

“Quinn,” another of the Cheerios starts, stopping with what she’s doing – it seems to be painting her nails – to address Quinn. “Are you single?”

“You’re thirteen years younger than her, Ingram,” one of the dressed-too-nice kids says, glaring heavily at the group of Cheerios. Ingram, for her part, looks like she could give two shits, just stares at Quinn in what Quinn suspects is meant to be seduction.

“Could you sing a song together?” a new voice asks, from the back. It’s the girl with the book in the corner. She’s wearing a bright green shirt, one that probably pushes up against the laws of fashion in high school. The girl next to her is looking at her softly, and now Quinn can see her leg in a cast kicked up on the chair next to her, replete with Cheerios stickers. She’s injured, away from her friends.

High school really does never change, Quinn must imagine. The injured Cheerio is staring at book girl with something approaching adoration.

“That would be awesome!” Mr. Schue says, because he’s always had the observational skills of a toddler. Quinn can already feel where this is going, and there are about ten billion other things she would rather do.

“We could absolutely sing,” Rachel says, and Quinn leans against the piano in exasperation. “I would just need some warm water and five minutes to do a warmup. Quinn?”

“I don’t do warmups,” Quinn says, as Aaron Graham Hill flat runs out of the room, presumably to retrieve some warm water for Rachel. “I haven’t sung in a while, either.”

“Quinn, your lackadaisical approach to singing always hindered your talent,” Rachel says, before launching into the familiar sounding group warm-ups she would lead the glee club in. Quinn does not join in.

Up in the corner, the girl and her Cheerio are watching them.

“What are you going to sing?” the Cheerio asks. Her (Quinn supposes) former teammates turn to look at her as she speaks. She glares at them. Quinn shrugs, looking over at Mr. Schue and Rachel. She already knows what they’re somehow going to end up singing, but she’d like to avoid suggesting it to the room.

“Maybe some Journey?” Mr. Schue asks. The whole room groans.

“Maybe some “Landslide,”” Quinn suggests, largely because it amuses her. Somewhere in the midst of Quinn’s junior year at Yale, Santana had visited while Brittany was on tour somewhere, and had sang the song at karaoke and cried through the entire four minute song.

“That’s more Brittany and Santana,” Rachel says, and one of the other Cheerios nearly falls out of their chair.

“Is the full Unholy Trinity assembled?” she asks. The one named Ingram looks like she could pass out as well.

“What about that one mash-up you guys did, when Rachel broke her nose?” Mr. Schue says, and Quinn sighs, looking at the ground and shuffling her feet. “I should still have the sheet music you guys drew up.”

For once, Rachel looks less than interested in singing something. Quinn watches as she crosses her hands in front of her body, playing with her own fingers.

“While I believe that mash-up was exemplary, it was very...emotional,” Rachel says. Aaron Graham Hill runs back into the room, handing a cup of steaming water to Rachel, who gingerly takes it.

“It was amazing! You guys should have sang more together,” Mr. Schue yells, from somewhere in the closet. Quinn laughs, because where was this sentiment after the fourteen billionth time Rachel and Finn had been chosen to do a special song?

“Rachel, how fluffy is Jesse St. James’s hair?” one of the dressed-too-well’s asks, looking very invested in this knowledge. Quinn laughs again.

“Who cares, Gayson?” one of the Cheerios asks, the one who asked about the Unholy Trinity.

“Erica,” the hurt Cheerio says, in a clearly warning tone. Quinn is enjoying the nostalgia of being in a dramatic glee club room again, trying to ward off her feelings of dread about whatever Mr. Schue is conjuring up in the corner of the room.

“Jesse St. James is an idiot,” Quinn says, answering the kid who probably isn’t named Gayson. He looks shocked.

“He isn’t an idiot,” Rachel starts to say, glancing over at Quinn in amusement.

“He is,” Quinn says, shrugging.

“Found it!” Mr. Schue yelps, pulling out a sheaf of papers and passing some to the band at the edge of the room. Quinn gets handed her own copy, one with notes from her sixteen year-old self, and from a younger Rachel. They had spliced together their own sheet music for the song. Quinn remembers driving Rachel home from the stupid doctor, as “Unpretty” was playing on the radio, and feeling so awful that she suggested that she and Rachel do a song.

It hadn’t felt less awful after doing the song, and it still didn’t feel great. The sentiment of the original song was all still there, simmering under the surface. It had just grown, mutated, and got lost under the mess that was Quinn’s current life.

Rachel looks over at her for permission, and Quinn glances upwards one more time, where the hurt Cheerio is whispering, just briefly, to the girl who requested the song. Quinn looks back and nods, pulling a stool over and settling down.

The music starts. Quinn sings.

I wish I could tie you up in my shoes, make you feel unpretty too…”

-

“Hey,” a voice says, behind Quinn. She’s standing in the McKinley High School bathroom, staring at herself in the mirror, ignoring the aura of this damn space. Rachel was still in the classroom, chattering with the group. Quinn had excused herself.

When she glances at the new figure in the mirror, it’s the girl in the corner of the room, still holding her book. 

“Hi,” Quinn says, turning to look at her. Her hair is dark, drawn back into a loose ponytail. She’s wearing glasses as well. She’s the picture of a wallflower nerd, the kind of person who’d show up at a party and sit in the back. She’s nervously playing with the book in her hands, as well, and it reminds Quinn quite suddenly of Rachel, when she’s reticent and not an outlandishly confident person.

“Thanks for singing a song for us,” she says, and Quinn tilts her head to the side, cracking her neck. The girl winces.

“That’s bad for you, you know,” she says, and Quinn laughs.

“I got hit by a car when I was eighteen,” Quinn says, shrugging. “Did you like the song?”

“It was…intense,” the girl says, seeming to settle on the word after a little deliberation. “Mr. Schue said he was surprised you guys were visiting together because you fought so often. Ingram says that when Sue Sylvester visits she tells all the Cheerios that glee club and Rachel Berry ruined you.”

Quinn laughs, shaking her head. She should’ve known that Sue Sylvester somehow had her number.

“Intense,” Quinn repeats. “What’s your name?”

“Callie,” she says. “Sorry, that probably wasn’t nice to say.”

“No, it was intense,” Quinn says, sighing. “Glee was intense. I’m sure you know.”

Callie pauses, then nods.

“Everyone is fighting with someone new all the time. Erica keeps calling Grayson gay and Jensen is being a jerk this week about not getting the solo because he thinks Jackson always gets them, which is true. And Wendy and Jackson just got back together after Wendy and Holly broke up, and Aaron and Ingram just broke up too so they’re snippy. And Laura’s leg is broken, and she’s the main female soloist, so everyone’s mad at her.”

Quinn tries not to laugh, but she smiles as Callie lets out a pent-up breath after releasing so much information.

“You aren’t mad at her,” Quinn says, looking pointedly at Callie. “And Rachel – she showed me videos of you guys singing. You’re a good singer.”

“I’m not as good as Laura,” Callie says, looking down at the ground. “Laura’s so - ”

“You should ask her out,” Quinn says, and Callie looks shocked for a second before smiling sadly.

“Is it that obvious?” she asks, then shakes her head. “She’s not interested. Jensen and her have been together on and off since like, middle school.”

“I think she likes you,” Quinn says. “I was a lot like her in high school.”

“What do you mean?” Callie asks, and before Quinn can explain herself, Rachel is stepping into the bathroom, looking for her.

-

Later that night, after the funeral, Quinn finds herself inviting Rachel to Breadstix’s bar. Rachel arrives a mere fifteen minutes after Quinn’s sent the message and Rachel’s agreed, and when she does arrive, she hugs Quinn tightly.

Quinn hugs back, though she doesn’t much enjoy the feeling of Rachel gripping her or the feeling of Rachel’s body in her arms. This whole thing was too stressful – too much like a fever dream. She had only invited Rachel to the bar because she didn’t want to be the loser sitting at Breadstix alone, drinking. Not for any other reason. Not because Rachel was still better at being there for Quinn than almost any other person.

“How was it?” Rachel asks, very kindly. Burying her father hadn’t been nearly as dramatic as Quinn imagined Rachel hoped it would be, but it had certainly been more than Quinn was expecting. What had truly made it worse was leaving the cemetery and seeing Finn’s headstone, tucked next to his dad’s.

She felt like she was sixteen, stuck in this town, all over again. Like she was living in an alternate time zone. But Rachel Berry was sitting there as well, wearing a black jacket that looked far different than sixteen year old Rachel Berry, and that was something, right?

“It reminded me of how little I like Lima,” Quinn says, shrugging away from Rachel’s arms and glancing up to the television, where they’re showing McKinley’s academic bowl. Jackson was on the team, apparently. “It wasn’t fun.”

“I’m sorry, Quinn,” Rachel says, softly and kindly, placing a hand on Quinn’s arm and sitting down in the seat next to her.

“I never thought I was gonna make it out of here, you know,” Quinn says, looking down at the beer in front of her. “In high school – I was pissed at you because you were always trying to steal my boyfriend, yeah, but I was more pissed that – that you seemed like you would be okay if you got stuck here. You deserved better than that.”

“Well, we both got out,” Rachel says, pausing their conversation for just a moment to order a glass of shitty Lima wine. “Are you okay?”

“I’m just experiencing some light PTSD,” Quinn says, shrugging. “It’s fine. Talk about something else.”

“I was reading your script for episode eight,” Rachel says. “Where Grace realizes she’s stuck.”

“This doesn’t seem like a different subject,” Quinn mutters, nudging at her glass.

“It seems like it’s a theme you enjoy writing about,” Rachel says. “I always thought that you felt a lot of pressure from your family and the Cheerios. And now, of course, knowing that you’re a lesbian, I can’t imagine the mix of emotions.”

“Thanks, Freud,” Quinn says. Rachel sighs.

“I just want to say I understand,” Rachel says, and Quinn interrupts her, because her stupid sympathetic eyes latched onto Quinn’s face are driving her insane.

“You don’t, Rachel,” Quinn says. “You didn’t. I get that you think we had some sort of special connection, or whatever, but you never knew me and you don’t now.”

“You didn’t tell me anything,” Rachel says, taking her wine from the bartender and looking at Quinn confrontationally. Quinn can feel her spine squaring up for a fight. “How could I have known you?”

“I didn’t want you to know me,” Quinn says. “Don’t get pissed at me for that.”

“You don’t want me to know you now,” Rachel says, jamming her finger into the bartop in a way that almost looks painful. Quinn has an immediate reaction to tell Rachel to not do that, but she reins the urge back in.

“Rachel, you flew with me to this godforsaken town because my father died,” Quinn says. Rachel glares at her.

“I forced my way,” Rachel says. “The minute you hired me, you looked like you regretted it. You let me into your apartment because Jimmy suggested it for you. And you won’t hang out with me in your own house.”

“Rachel,” Quinn starts to say, but Rachel cuts her off again.

“You told me when we left McKinley that you would come to see me and that I would come to see you,” Rachel says. “You told me over and over in school that we were kind of friends. Why were we never friends? Why aren’t we friends now?”

“I don’t think anyone would say that I’m a friend who’s worth this much effort,” Quinn mutters, and Rachel stares at her.

“Of course you are,” Rachel says. Quinn stares at her. Rachel stares back. Quinn drops a twenty on the bartop, and walks out.

Rachel, of course, follows her. She keeps trying to talk to Quinn, as she winds her way through the tiny main street of Lima. Eventually, Quinn stops, right on the edge of the center part of town, where the train station is.

“Quinn?” Rachel asks. Quinn is, at this point, aware that she’s not acting like a normal person. But Rachel Berry never prompted her to act like a normal person, either.

“Remember when Finn sent you off to New York and you two sang that song?” Quinn asks, looking back at Rachel, who’s pulling her jacket tighter around herself in the chilly May air. Rachel nods.

“I wrote that song,” Quinn says, shrugging. Rachel startles, clearly surprised. “I was so happy for you, that you were finally going to where you needed to be.”

“You wrote that song,” Rachel repeats. Quinn tilts her head to the side, before turning back to look at the train station. It’s brightly lit, and she can see various people waiting around for an arriving train.

“I wanted to be your friend,” Quinn says, shaking her head. “I was a mess, though.”

“During our junior prom,” Rachel says, then pauses as Quinn turns to look at her. “The one Finn got thrown out of, I mean. I told Finn to get you your gardenia. I thought you would like it.”

Quinn stares at Rachel. That prom had been about ten shades of awful, but the gardenia that Finn had brought for her had been one of her favorite parts. She still had a photo her mom took of it, sitting somewhere in her desk at home. Damn it. Damn it, Rachel Berry.

“I won prom queen, senior year,” Quinn says. Rachel looks confused. “I won by one vote, over Santana.”

“I won prom queen,” Rachel says, then seems to understand what Quinn is saying. “You gave me prom queen?”

Quinn nods, then laughs.

“Don’t tell Santana I told you,” Quinn says. “We swore never to tell anyone. I’m pretty sure Sue would still revoke your crown if she ever figured out we jobbed the votes.”

“Why are you telling me then?” Rachel asks, stepping slightly closer. Quinn watches her traverse the distance between them, and decides this is close enough.

“I always wanted to be friends,” Quinn says, shrugging. “Maybe it was a non-starter back then. But we can get to know each other now.”

“And maybe do nice things for each other to each other’s faces,” Rachel says, laughing. Quinn smiles back. She wants to tell Rachel that she’s always been interested in being more than just friends. She wants to say that the reason she did those things was because she had been in love with Rachel.

“Maybe,” Quinn says, and Rachel smiles.

-

The first day back from Lima, Quinn goes into the kitchen to eat breakfast with Rachel. She still cooks in her workout clothes, and it’s still distracting, but Quinn feels more at home with the uncomfortable feeling than she ever has before. She’s going to count it as a victory.

“Good morning, Quinn,” Rachel says, very clearly trying to reign in a lot of pent-up enthusiasm. Quinn smiles at the other woman, as Rachel starts brewing some coffee for Quinn. “I was thinking as I was pursuing my training regimen this morning – we should host a soiree, for the cast and crew of the show, and invite Sam and Mercedes as well.”

Quinn tilts her head, as Rachel moves around the kitchen fluidly.

“Why?” Quinn asks. She’s not opposed to it, but she chafes at the thought of hosting a joint party with Rachel Berry. Santana would laugh for fifteen minutes. Mercedes would look at her with pity.

“Well, it’s nice of us, right?” Rachel asks, shrugging and plopping a cup of coffee in front of Quinn. She grasps it too quickly, before Rachel has let it go. Their hands brush briefly.

“I have friends besides Sam and Mercedes and Jimmy and Lila, you know,” Quinn says, drumming her fingers on the top of her kitchen island. Rachel laughs, like this is shocking and unprecedented.

“You could invite them, obviously,” Rachel says, turning and sitting at the island with her own tea and something that looks like a gross quinoa creation in a bowl. “What are their names?”

“You want me to list my friends?” Quinn asks, taking a sip of her coffee. It’s still too hot, and she winces. Rachel smiles sympathetically.

“No, I just…I’m trying to learn about the mysterious Quinn Fabray,” Rachel says. Quinn looks at Rachel for a second too long before deciding to take another too-hot sip to distract her.

“Well, my ex-girlfriend Delaney and I are still friends,” Quinn says, shrugging. “I mean, to the extent that exes can be friends. And I have a friend from Sony Music who I play tennis with.”

“Delaney. That’s an interesting name,” Rachel says, and Quinn watches as Rachel narrows her eyes.

“Delaney Simonsen? You’ve probably heard of her, she sings and stuff,” Quinn says. Rachel blinks.

“Delaney Simonsen?”

“Yeah,” Quinn says, shrugging half-heartedly and taking another sip of coffee. “I mean, don’t tell anyone. She’s not out or anything. But yeah.”

“Delaney Simonsen, who starred in the Los Angeles incubation production of current Broadway blockbuster The Breakfast Club?”

“Have you met her?” Quinn asks, praying to all forms of heavenly bodies that Rachel Berry and Delaney Simonsen haven’t met. Rachel shakes her head, taking a small bite of her quinoa.

“I was offered her role,” Rachel says, shrugging. “After she had bowed out of the process, of course. Not because I’m better than her or anything. Though I am a Tony Award winner, obviously, so – well, I mean, she’s won many regional awards as well - ”

Quinn laughs, watching as Rachel tries to be both polite and arrogant at the same time. The girl splutters, before stopping and breathing in deeply.

“I turned it down in favor of coming out here for pilot season,” Rachel says.

“Turned out okay,” Quinn says, shrugging. Rachel smiles, and Quinn smiles back. The hot, sticky feeling of interest and adoration of that smile bursts from whatever dam Quinn had managed to build, and Quinn has to take an extended drink from her coffee to distract her.

-

“Listen, dude, I’m not saying that you don’t know how to live your life, but having your ex meet your like, lifelong love is not really fun,” Sam says, jogging next to Quinn on the treadmill. Quinn glares at him. He throws his arms up as if to say, who, me?

“Delaney and I are friends,” Quinn says, panting in the middle of her sprint portion. “It’s normal.”

“I know you and Delly are friends,” Sam says, glancing towards the door of the workout room, clearly checking if Rachel is somehow going to walk through at any moment, even though she’s on set right now. “But you and Rachel…”

“Are also friends,” Quinn says, slowing down the treadmill to a light jog.

“Yeah, friends who had huge crushes on each other in high school and who live together now and probably see each other in towels, like all the time,” Sam says. Quinn stares at him as she powers down to just a plain old walk.

“I haven’t seen her in a towel,” Quinn says, and Sam shrugs, stepping off the treadmill and doing a stretch.

“Well, now you’re imagining it, and you don’t hate it,” Sam says, shrugging his shoulders upwards and downwards repeatedly. “Proof.”

“That isn’t proof,” Quinn says, jabbing her fist into Sam’s chest. He groans, rubbing the muscle there. “This is only proof that you work in the comics industry, because your logic makes no sense.”

“I get that you’re lashing out,” Sam says, grabbing ahold of Quinn by the shoulders. “I just want you to be careful, Q. I want you and Rachel to be friends, but it’s not like anyone’s seen it happen or anything.”

“Delaney laughed at me for ten minutes when I invited her,” Quinn mutters, crossing her arms. Sam laughs, grabbing Quinn and pulling her into a hug.

“I’ll be there, and Mercedes will be too if she isn’t working,” he says, kissing the top of her head. “And if she is working, she’ll probably get out of it just to see Delly and Rachel talk to each other.”

“Okay, you can leave my apartment building now,” Quinn says, withdrawing from his hug and grabbing her water bottle. He laughs, grabbing his own, following her as she walks out of the room.

“Love you, Q,” Sam says, hugging her one more time in the lobby of the building. Her door lady smiles softly at them, because she is creepily obsessed with them. She had once asked if they had ever considered having blonde children together.

“Love you too, Sammy,” Quinn says, hugging him back before he leaves the building to get home so he can watch his dumb superhero bloc of television shows. The door lady gives a dreamy sigh after his retreating form, which Quinn ignores, calling for the elevator and settling in. 

When she makes it into her apartment, Rachel Berry is sitting on the couch, watching what seems to be a talent show of some kind, wearing a towel. For God’s sake.

“Hello, Quinn,” Rachel says, smiling broadly.

“Why are you wearing a towel?” Quinn asks, feeling like an idiot. Rachel has clearly just showered, which means she’s naked and that’s something Quinn has avoided thinking about for years, after that time Quinn had to take a midnight train to New York City to convince the other girl not to do a nude scene.

“I had fake blood all over me,” Rachel says, shrugging and adjusting the towel. Quinn tries not to stare at all the skin that’s being teased at. Quinn tries not to look at all, to be honest. It seems better that way. “You are in a similar state of undress.”

Quinn looks down at herself, realizing belatedly that she’s wearing a sports bra and running shorts that don’t leave much to the imagination. Rachel is looking at her funny, by the time Quinn looks back up.

“Sorry,” Quinn says, unsure of what to do now that they’re in this place. “I was going to shower and change.”

“You’re very beautiful, Quinn,” Rachel says, leaning backwards into the couch. The front of her towel shifts so that her cleavage becomes something verging on scandalous. Good lord, Quinn is moving a little closer, leaning against the archway leading into her living room.

“I have stretch marks,” Quinn says, and Rachel picks her head up to glare at Quinn.

“And they’re beautiful,” Rachel says. The side of her towel drops down just enough that Quinn can see what looks like a black mark on the side of her chest, at the top of her rib cage. Before she has enough sense to back out of the situation, she asks a question.

“Do you have a tattoo?” Quinn asks, coming closer. Rachel looks up at Quinn in confusion, then looks down again, seeing where Quinn’s eyes are focused. She looks up again, sheepishly, before dropping the towel a little lower to reveal the thing. It looks like jumbled nonsense to Quinn, a series of letters and numbers that trail across the smooth, tan skin of Rachel’s ribs.

She almost reaches out to touch them, and that’s when she realizes how close she’s gotten.

“They’re the coordinates to the star Finn named after me,” Rachel says, looking at Quinn carefully. It’s the first time they’ve talked about Finn in a remotely serious way, and Quinn has to try to draw herself up for it. Talking about Finn, and Finn and Rachel, is exhausting. It reminds her, always, of that time when she had nearly told Rachel, nearly taken the plunge.

Thankfully, she could pretend she didn’t remember that time because she got hit by a car three hours later.

“Do you have any?” Rachel asks, drawing Quinn from her reverie. Quinn nods, pulling the band of her sports bra up enough that the date becomes visible. It’s Beth’s birthday, and Rachel does reach out to touch it, and Quinn almost shudders through the light caress.

“Your coordinates,” Quinn starts to say, swallowing to clear her throat. “They’re nice. Finn was good to you.”

“Why didn’t you come to his funeral?” Rachel asks, and she asks it like she’s been waiting to ask it for seven years. Which she most likely has. Quinn sighs, dropping her hand from her bra and looking at the television briefly.

“I just couldn’t,” Quinn finally says, shrugging. “I had a ticket. Puck was going to pick me up at the airport.”

Rachel doesn’t say anything, so Quinn shakes her head and clears her throat, trying to keep the tears out of her eyes. She doesn’t like to think about this. Santana hadn’t talked to her for a month.

“I just…you know, Finn, he was my first boyfriend,” Quinn says, looking over at Rachel, who is staring at her. “And even though we both were terrible to each other at various points in our lives, I loved him. And I…loved all of you guys. I just couldn’t deal with the thought of showing up for three days having been apart from everyone and watching everyone cry the whole time.”

The thought of Rachel had stopped her, while she was standing in the airport bathroom, staring at herself while a five year-old girl washed her little hands next to Quinn. She had thought about Rachel, crying, and wanting to do something about it.

She had made up some excuse to Puck. He had been fine with it, and then he had joined the Air Force and disappeared, off to Hawaii.

“It’s okay,” Rachel whispers, grabbing Quinn by the hand and pulling her focus sideways. Rachel’s towel has slipped, but Quinn just stares at Rachel’s face, where tears is sitting. “I never blamed you or anything. I just never knew.”

“I never told anyone,” Quinn says, shrugging and trying to blink away the tears in her eyes.

“Kurt has his letterman jacket, you know,” Rachel says, laughing. “It was like, the only thing he wanted from all of his stuff.”

“He was always way too into that thing,” Quinn mutters, trying to laugh too. “Both Kurt and Finn.”

“Very true,” Rachel says, letting out a cackle of laughter that sounds so distinctly adult, so distinctly this Rachel Berry, that Quinn’s struck by it.

“You know,” Quinn says, watching as Rachel grips her hand between them. “You grew up pretty good. I sometimes thought you’d get bowled over by big city life and get thrown back to Lima.”

“Well, my first semi-serious relationship in New York was with a male escort,” Rachel says. “And my second was with one of my professors. I learned a lot about tough city life.”

“I have no comment on any of that,” Quinn says, smiling and settling back on the couch, looking over at Rachel. Rachel is smiling, softly and sweetly, looking for all the world like she and her towel-clad self belong in the tableau of Quinn’s life. And that’s a new feeling, one that Quinn is uncomfortable with. But she pushes even further, maybe the furthest she’s pushed since that stupid regionals competition, since she got hit by that stupid fucking car.

“You can have my old Letterman, you know. I sort of hate it,” Quinn says, shrugging. It sounds so high school that she almost laughs. The only thing that prevents her from doing so is the ecstatic look on Rachel’s face. “I had way more patches then Finn anyway. One of them is a dove, from the Celibacy Club.”

“The Celibacy Club had patches? No one ever gave me one,” Rachel says, as Quinn rises up from the couch to head to her bedroom. Rachel seems to be following her, considering the light steps behind her.

“You never had a Letterman,” Quinn says, turning into her closet and flipping the light on. The jacket is easy to spot, still bright red and in a dry cleaning plastic wrap, one she hasn’t ripped open since she moved to college years ago. She grabs it, pulling it off as she goes.

By the time she turns around, Rachel has ditched her towel for a white t-shirt and a short pair of shorts. Her hair is almost dry, coming down in soft waves around her way-too-excited face. When Quinn starts to pull the jacket off the hanger, Rachel actually claps excitedly.

“Okay, I’m not letting you have this if you’re going to be weird,” Quinn says, rolling her eyes as Rachel takes the jacket and starts to put her arms through the sleeves.

“I promise not to be weird,” Rachel says, laughing as she pulls her hair out from under the back. She twirls around in the space in Quinn’s closet, smiling brightly. “How do I look?”

Quinn doesn’t answer for a half-second, watching as Rachel steps out into Quinn’s bathroom to look at herself in the mirror with the jacket on.

“You look good,” is what she finally settles on.

-

“You can’t reach the top shelf,” Quinn says, stopping the grocery cart she’s been tasked with as she watches Rachel struggle to reach the specific kind of almond milk she wants. It’s stashed at the very top of the fridge.

“Don’t call me a midget,” Rachel says, very crossly. Quinn laughs, as Rachel starts to try to climb up onto the bottom of the door.

“I don’t think I ever called you a midget,” Quinn says, grabbing Rachel by the back of her shirt and tugging her out of the fridge. Rachel huffs as she retreats back to the cart. Quinn grabs the milk and sets it on top of a stack of different kinds of crackers.

“You did once, sometime freshman year,” Rachel mutters, crossing the milk off the enormous grocery list that Quinn had thought seemed a little long. Rachel had stressed that they were providing provisions for a party. These provisions mysteriously included a whole case of rosé.

“It was one of your comments on my videos,” Rachel says, continuing without actually paying attention. Quinn sighs, pulling the cart forward to the cheeses, where Rachel immediately begins selecting an assortment.

“Sorry about that,” Quinn says. Rachel glances at her and smiles.

“You were fourteen,” Rachel says. “You really drove up the view count on my videos, anyway.”

Quinn doesn’t really know what to say to that, so she looks down at the grocery list again, eyeing Rachel’s too-perfect handwriting. Of course a stupid fourteen year-old version of herself had watched Rachel’s stupid videos so many times that it looked like hundreds had watched them.

“Don’t brood,” Rachel continues, dropping a load of what looks like cheddars into the cart. Quinn crosses them off the list.

“I’m not brooding,” Quinn says, sighing. “I avoid thinking about high school and how terrible I was to you.”

“That’s interesting,” Rachel says, picking up another batch of cheese and depositing it in the cart. “Is that why you avoided talking to me for years? Because you talked to everyone else.”

“I don’t talk to Artie or Tina,” Quinn says, which isn’t really a good defense.

“That is not a good defense. They live in Japan,” Rachel says, shrugging. “It has to be me, right? It’s always been me, specifically.”

Rachel no longer seems too nonchalant, as she’s just staring at the cheeses spread out in front of her. Quinn is staring at her, watching her posture as she waits for Quinn to say something.

“You just,” Quinn says, then clears her throat. “I don’t know, Rachel. You get under my skin.”

“You get under mine, too,” Rachel says, settling on a block of parmesan and moving the cart forward again, pulling it while Quinn guides it. “What’s your favorite color?”

“I – what?” Quinn asks, laughing a little. Rachel smiles, looking up at her.

“I’m tired of focusing on the past,” Rachel says, grabbing for an enormous bag of salad mix. “Let’s just learn about each other right now.”

“It’s green,” Quinn says, accepting the bag when Rachel hands it to her. “What’s yours?”

“Red,” Rachel says. “Why’d you switch from acting to writing?”

“I knew I wasn’t that good,” Quinn says, laughing. Rachel looks at her sharply, clearly preparing to launch into a cry-worthy speech on Quinn’s worth. “Not in a bad way. I realized I had been acting for so much of my life anyway. Plus, I knew you. I wasn’t ever going to beat you out for Streetcar, you know? And I like writing.”

“I should hope you like it,” Rachel says. “Were people jealous that you knew me, at Yale?"

“I didn’t really tell people,” Quinn says. “And even if I had, I wouldn’t tell you now, you egotistic short person.” 

Rachel gasps, placing her hand over her heart as if she’s been mortally wounded. Quinn giggles.

“You have to ask me a question now,” Rachel says, making her way through the maze of fruits and vegetables. Quinn thinks for a moment, then comes up with something.

“Tell me a secret you’ve never told anyone,” Quinn says. Rachel smiles at her, dropping a bag of two onions in the cart.

“I stole a light bulb from my first dressing room on Broadway,” Rachel says, stopping the cart with a light touch as an older couple shuffles past them, bickering away.

“I’m calling the Richard Rodgers Theatre right now,” Quinn says, laughing. Rachel smiles even wider.

“Oh, please,” Rachel says, waving her finger at Quinn’s face. “At least I didn’t defile my dressing room like my two co-stars did.”

Quinn tries to keep her smile on her face, even though she’s had a sudden emergent image of Rachel and Quinn defiling Rachel’s dressing room.

“Why’d you audition for my show?” Quinn asks, proceeding into the aisle after they are safely clear of running over any old people. Rachel grabs a fruit tray and drops it on their crazy pile of party food.

“I liked the writing,” Rachel says, shrugging. “It was beautiful.”

Rachel looks up at her, with her wide brown eyes, all sincere and kind, and Quinn smiles.

-

“Where’s Rach?” Jimmy asks, chowing down on the chips he’s added to his plate. He’s sitting on one of the stools they’ve assembled at the kitchen island, next to Sam, who’s talking exuberantly to another of the writers about the newest sci-fi wunderkind television show.

“She’s getting ready,” Quinn says. Mercedes laughs, and Sam kind of does too. Jimmy looks confused.

Around the room, there’s a random assortment of Rachel and Quinn’s agreed upon people – a smattering of people working on the show, some of Quinn’s other writer friends, a small band of local theatre people who are hovering in the corner of the room and waiting for Rachel to finish doing whatever she’s doing. Delaney isn’t here yet, but Quinn feels like she’s dying, very slowly.

“You should go check on her,” Mercedes says. “I have a bet with Santana and I need you to win me fifty bucks.”

“I don’t even want to know,” Quinn says, dropping her glass on the counter next to Mercedes and moving away, through a chunk of crewsters who are laughing about something.

“You don’t!” Mercedes says, loudly, before laughing some more. Quinn winds her way through the apartment to Rachel’s door, knocking.

“It’s me,” Quinn says, right into the wood of the door. “Are you like, okay in there?”

The door opens quite ceremoniously, to a Rachel Berry still wearing a towel.

“Jesus Christ, can you just wear clothes?” Quinn asks, looking up at the ceiling as Rachel pulls her into the room. Thankfully no one is back in this part of the apartment, so no one has witnessed this bullshit thing that keeps happening to her.

“I’m getting dressed,” Rachel says. Quinn is still looking at the ceiling when she hears the thump of the towel hitting the floor. She leans against the door for strength. “It’s good that you arrived when you did, as I needed help zipping my dress anyway.”

Great. She’s going to have to zip a dress.

“Practically everyone is here,” Quinn says, squeezing her eyes shut and crossing her arms.

“Is Delaney here? I’m very excited to meet her, as I’m interested to see what she’s like,” Rachel says, then laughs. “I’ve always wondered what exactly your type is. I assumed that we dated the same people in high school was really a matter of limited choice, at least on your end. No offense to Noah, but you were certainly far above him.”

“She isn’t here yet, no,” Quinn says.

“You can open your eyes,” Rachel says. “I’m no longer nude.”

Quinn sighs, opening her eyes up slowly. Rachel is right, she is no longer nude. She’s wearing a blue dress that is classy but sexy, the kind of dress that Quinn’s seen on her Facebook all these years and tried not to think about. The neckline isn’t scandalous, but Quinn very suddenly feels heat thrumming through her body.

“Good,” Quinn says, clearing her throat. Rachel looks at her curiously.

“Are you not feeling well?” Rachel asks. “I can tell everyone to leave.”

“No, just…” Quinn says, then decides she has no real reason for her dry mouth. “Let’s just, get out there and party.”

“What does your ideal girl look like, anyway?” Rachel asks, turning her back on Quinn and pointing her finger at the open back of the dress. Rachel’s back is tan, smooth, and Quinn’s voice doesn’t improve as she takes hesitant steps forward to grip the zipper.

“She…well,” Quinn says, then has to clear her throat again. Rachel doesn’t comment this time, as Quinn places one hand on Rachel’s shoulder for leverage as she pulls the zipper upward, covering up her skin. “I like smart girls. But kind of nerdy, and sweet, and able to put up with me.”

She feels way too close to Rachel Berry right now, trapped in this room with the lights of Los Angeles out the window and the relative silence provided by being isolated from the party. She finishes zipping the dress up after what feels like an eternity, releasing Rachel quickly.

“Yeah, but what does she look like?” Rachel asks, laughing, because she has no fucking idea what she’s doing to Quinn. Like always.

Quinn doesn’t answer, just opens the door and makes a beeline for the kitchen, because she needs a drink. Of course, standing there in the entryway, with a perfect line of sight down the hallway, is Delaney Simonsen. She smirks at Quinn as she can feel Rachel step out of the bedroom after her.

“Hello, sailor,” Delaney says, reaching out her arms for Quinn, who comes up to her dutifully and wraps her arms around her. Delaney is giggling right in Quinn’s ear, and Quinn glares at her quite heavily as they release each other.

“So, how’s the new roommate sitch going?” Delaney whispers, just before Rachel arrives at Quinn’s side, sticking out a hand for Delaney to shake.

“Rachel, this is Delaney, Delaney, Rachel,” Quinn says, now glaring over top of Rachel’s head at Sam, who has his phone at an angle that seems to indicate he’s filming this meeting. He doesn’t stop, just waves.

“It’s so lovely to meet you,” Rachel says, drawing in a deep breath. “I have seen a good deal of your work, and I’m very impressed with it, and I would be interested in singing a duet with you tonight – I have taken the liberty of setting up a small stage - ”

Quinn looks over into the living room in confusion, for the first time spotting the sound equipment shoved into the corner. By the time she turns back around, Rachel is onto something completely different.

“ – I understand that you and Quinn have broken up and are good friends, but I have to admit that you two do make a handsome couple, even though you are much shorter than I had imagined - ”

“Rachel,” Quinn says, interrupting the girl in the middle of her talk. She takes a deep breath, clearly unaware that she hasn’t stopped talking at a high pace for a good few seconds. “Mercedes just waved for your help with your tofu or whatever.”

“Mercedes!” Rachel yells, abandoning the conversation so that she can go deal with the tofu situation that Quinn has just manufactured. Delaney leans around the corner to watch Rachel disappear into the kitchen before she turns back and looks at Quinn with a smirk.

“So that’s the girl that turned you gay,” she says, laughing uproariously now that she can. Quinn glares at her. Once she cools down, she keeps talking, which is unfortunately a trait she shares with Rachel Berry. 

“I mean, my goodness,” Delaney says, poking at Quinn’s shoulder. “The look on your face when you walked out of the bedroom. One might think that you’re still pretty into her.”

“Can you…just chill?” Quinn asks, sighing.

“I mean, you looked like a teenage boy who had just been blue balled to hell and back,” Delaney continues, not chilling in the least. “How are you dealing with that?”

“I’m not dealing with anything,” Quinn says, trying to shrug and only managing a gentle flopping of her shoulder. She hears the distant peal of Rachel’s laughter.

“Sure, sailor,” Delaney says, nudging her in the arm. “Try telling that to someone who didn’t date you for a year.”

“We’re friends,” Quinn says, then sighs again. “We’re trying to be friends.” 

“Operative word,” Delaney says. “Is she into you too?”

“No,” Quinn says. Delaney frowns at her, grabbing for her arm and holding onto it. It’s comforting, ish.

“Let me figure that out for you, okay?” she says, smiling at Quinn until Quinn smiles back. 

“Quinn, we need you to open a jar of pickles, as Samuel claims he hurt his hand, which I think – oh, I’m sorry for interrupting,” Rachel says, stopping short just in front of the two of them. Delaney drops her arm immediately, muttering something that even Quinn can’t make out, crossing too close to her to walk into the living room and greet some of the theatre people Rachel had invited.

Of course, it makes sense when she watches Delaney go with confusion and receives a wink – and then turns back to see a mysterious look on Rachel’s face.

“You two have a good deal of chemistry,” Rachel says, crossing her arms.

“We’re friends,” Quinn says, grabbing ahold of Rachel by the shoulders and pushing her back into the kitchen, toward the jar of pickles. Rachel jostles a little bit at being manhandled, but laughs after a moment.

“Remember when you and Finn got mono?” Rachel asks. Sam, who seems to be trying to open the jar of pickles despite his “injured” hand, looks up as she arrives to save him, having heard the comment.

“Yeah, ‘cause you cheated on me? Remember that, Q?” he asks, acting mock affronted. 

“Wait, the Wonder Twins dated?” Jimmy asks, looking at them in shock. “Quinn! Why don’t you tell us things about your high school experience? I told you about the time that I peed my pants in middle school.”

“Well, now you’ve told everyone,” Lila says, arriving next to Jimmy and plucking a chip from his plate.

“Remember how you then started dating Santana, another lesbian?” Quinn asks, holding out her hand so Sam can hand the jar of pickles over. He does, smiling. Of course, then he picks up Rachel, who squeals at being twirled around.

“Put me down right now, Samuel, or I will start singing “Trouty Mouth”,” Rachel says, giggling. Sam practically drops her to the ground, and she clings to Quinn’s arm for a moment for balance, as Quinn is trying to open the jar. It comes free with a pop, just as Rachel leans a little bit into her.

It’s warm, and Quinn feels entirely too happy.

-

“Hello, honored guests,” Rachel says, waving to the partygoers. After rounds and rounds of singing, varying from professional level (Mercedes) to serviceable (Sam) to abysmal (Jimmy and Lila, on a duet performance of “Single Ladies”), Rachel has finally pulled Delaney onto the stage to a huge amount of applause.

Quinn is sitting on her couch, practically on top of Sam, as everyone has settled into their seats for the biggest performance of the night. She’s more than a little buzzed, after a lot of wine and laughter. Her neighbors have only complained twice.

“What’s up,” Delaney says, after dashing away from the karaoke machine after apparently made a selection. “Rachel’s going in blind.”

“It’s not something odd, is it?” Rachel asks, though she smiles when she hears the strains of music over Quinn’s sound system. She takes a deep breath, looking upwards as though she’s on a stage at the very moment. At Quinn’s side, Mercedes is filming the performance, along with a few others.

Nothing is so good it lasts eternally,” Rachel sings, looking into some middle distance spot that is probably meant to emulate a horizon. “Perfect situations must go wrong…

“Doesn’t get old, does it?” Sam asks, in Quinn’s ear. And even though she’s heard Rachel Berry sing a million and a half times by now, from glee club to Broadway, to in her own apartment, it’s true. It doesn’t get old. Delaney is watching her with some amazement, but Quinn doesn’t have a chance to watch her too long.

Wasn’t it good? Wasn’t he fine? Isn’t it madness,” Rachel sings, just before Quinn hears Delaney’s also-distinctive voice add onto the last line. “he can’t be mine?”

Delaney takes over the lead as their voices mix and build together until Rachel reaches for the high note on, “I know him so well.”

It’s a relatively short song, but Rachel makes it feel like an eternity. Quinn stares at her the whole time, watching every second as she backs up Delaney’s voice. It’s always amazing, watching Rachel perform – she looks like she believes every moment, even though she’s had no preparation at all for this song except for avoiding the stupid amount of cheeses she’s bought for tonight.

Once they finish off the high note at the end of the song and Rachel finishes staring off into the horizon, the room bursts into applause, and Quinn finds herself boosted off of Sam’s lap and right into Delaney’s path. Rachel is intercepted by her newfound theatre best friends, and an absolutely drunk Jimmy, who hugs her.

“Interesting choice,” Quinn says, grabbing ahold of Delaney and hugging her briefly.

“You’ve got it bad,” Delaney says, as Rachel crashes over from the theatre people and into Quinn’s side, wrapping her arms around her in a hug. Quinn is thankfully tipsy enough that the immediate hot feeling that spreads through her can be explained by alcohol. Delaney is watching her with amusement.

“That was amazing,” Rachel says, setting her hand on Delaney’s arm and smiling exuberantly. “I have had many duet partners in my life, of course, but that was wonderful. Quinn, you could certainly do worse for a mate.”

“A mate?” Quinn asks, looking down at Rachel’s face, which is absurdly close to hers.

“That ship sailed,” Delaney says, laughing as Rachel and Quinn stare at each other. “Why don’t you two close out the night with a song?”

“No,” Quinn says, just as Rachel gives an emphatic, “Yes!”

“I don’t sing,” Quinn says, turning again to look down at Rachel, who’s still hanging onto her. It reminds Quinn briefly of Finn’s stupid, sexist drunk girl categories.

“You just sang with me a week ago,” Rachel says, looking extremely put out that Quinn would deny her anything.

“Yeah, and that song is awful,” Quinn says. 

“It isn’t awful! It’s just…messy,” Rachel says, looking affronted. Quinn sighs, wrapping an arm around Rachel’s back to try to reassure her.

“Why don’t you sing a different song?” Delaney asks, looking between them. Jimmy crashes right into Quinn’s other side as if he’s been a part of the conversation the whole time.

“Yeah, sing that one song,” he says, snapping his fingers in the space between all of them. ““Faithfully”! Like in your videos!”

Quinn glares at him, while Rachel gives a very hesitant, “No.”

“Everyone likes Journey,” Jimmy says, insisting now. Quinn glares at him some more, as Rachel’s face grows sad.

“Let’s sing something newer,” Quinn suggests, and Delaney raises her eyebrows at her, which is just annoying.

“Frank Ocean?” Delaney asks, and Quinn now glares at her, as Rachel starts to clap excitedly, drawn out of her sadness at the thought of singing a preeminent bisexual artist’s music with Quinn. “What? You love Frank Ocean.”

“Fine,” Quinn says. Rachel squeals in excitement, dashing over to the karaoke machine. Quinn steps to the front of the room, ignoring Delaney’s quiet aside about being whipped, which is honestly just stupid.

“Hey there, everyone,” Quinn says, waving her hand awkwardly at everyone. “I’ve been coerced into doing a duet with Rachel.”

“Yes!” Mercedes screams, and immediately whips out her phone again to film. She tries to glare at her, but it doesn’t work amazingly well.

“Okay, you take accents and then higher part,” Rachel says, arriving at her side with aplomb. Quinn sadly understands those terse instructions, and nods as Rachel puts on her very own show face and Quinn takes a deep breath.

A tornado flew around my room before you came, excuse the mess it made it usually doesn’t rain in Southern California,” Rachel begins. Quinn follows her through the mess.

-

“You know, Quinn,” Jimmy says, pushing his sunglasses further up his nose a week later, as they stroll through the set. Rachel is in makeup somewhere, along with her official new co-star. “We did okay. With the writing and stuff.”

“You mean, we’re running our own television show?” Quinn asks, laughing. “Yeah, it’s nice.”

“You run your own television show,” he says. “I’m just your hype man. And we’ve got a great lead. Did you get here in time to see her with Gavin?”

“I saw the dailies,” Quinn says, shrugging.

“Two girls from smalltown Ohio, taking over the world,” Jimmy says, spreading his arms across the air between them in a rainbow shape. “Sounds like my television show right there.”

“What’s your television show?” Rachel asks, suddenly right next to them, sipping on a bottle of water with a straw. Gavin, the new dude, is right next to her, his scruff immaculate.

“Just you and Quinn’s life story,” he says, and Rachel laughs.

“Oh yeah, I read an article saying that you guys went to high school together and were in show choir or something,” Gavin says. “Though, my girlfriend told me show choir was super nerdy.”

“It was considered very nerdy,” Rachel says, turning and gesturing to him. He looks immediately interested in what she’s saying. He had been cast well as her new techy sidekick who was sort of infatuated with her. “Quinn was a cheerleader, which was the most important export of the school.”

“A cheerleader?” Jimmy asks, laughing. Quinn glares at him.

“She was head cheerleader, in fact,” Rachel says. “And I was the star of the glee club. There were natural tensions.”

Quinn blinks and looks out towards the horizon, trying not to betray exactly what kind of tensions existed on Quinn’s side of things.

“The preferred method of bullying at our high school was slushying, which was kind of an odd choice, but it was very effective. I kept a secondary set of clothes at all times,” Rachel says, shrugging. “I also wore a lot of animal sweaters, so maybe I deserved the slushies.”

“You didn’t deserve them,” Quinn says, sighing and looking at Rachel. Rachel’s face goes soft, and she reaches out to touch Quinn’s arm briefly, but thankfully before she can say anything, Jimmy gasps.

“Oh my gosh, I’ve got it. Two female rivals in high school fall in love across social and heteronormative lines. There’s singing, dancing, and I get written up for being cool and progressive,” Jimmy says, doing a little camera rectangle right in Quinn’s face. She smacks his hand out of the way, very nervously.

“Oh, you don’t understand,” Rachel says, laughing. “Quinn was the most beautiful girl in school. It’s very unrealistic that any girl even loosely based on her would fall for one even loosely based on me.”

“I don’t know, man, it’s possible,” Jimmy says, shrugging. “Two girls in a cowtown, one’s a cheerleader, one’s a nerd…some Romeo and Juliet vibes…plus, think of my GLAAD Awards!” 

Gavin laughs, and Quinn looks just over Rachel’s head as Rachel pauses, and seems to think for a moment. Quinn is going to fire Jimmy any second now.

“Places!” the director calls, looking over at his two actors. Quinn steps out of the way as Gavin eagerly jogs over to the set. Rachel seems to still be lost in thought. Quinn would honestly like to fling herself off a cliff.

“Rachel!” the director yells, shocking Rachel out of her own head. The girl jumps, and her eyes connect immediately with Quinn’s. Rachel laughs a little, then hands over her water bottle to Quinn, who takes it gingerly.

She walks towards the set.

“So, you were a cheerleader,” Jimmy says, nudging at Quinn. “I’m sure the wrap party would love to see photos of you in uniform.”

She hits him in the shoulder, and tries not to worry about whatever is happening inside Rachel’s head.

-

“What the hell, Q?” Santana asks, yawning heavily into the phone once she picks up. Quinn is pacing back and forth in her office, with the door locked, even though she knows Rachel is going late on a night shoot and she has four more hours to figure out her life before her roommate busts down the door.

“Jimmy fucking guessed that I was into Rachel in high school and Rachel didn’t even believe him, but I know she’s thinking about it now,” Quinn says, all in a rush. “And she’s going to figure it out.”

“Dear lord,” Santana says, sighing. “Why the fuck did you not just make out with her in high school when I told you to?”

“You never told me to do that,” Quinn says, kind of stupidly.

“I should have, or I could have saved years of my life from you complaining about her,” Santana mutters. “Okay. Are you like, barricaded in a safe space?”

“I’m in my office,” Quinn says.

“Well, sit the fuck down, because Auntie ‘Tana is pissed that you woke her up at one in the morning and is going to drop some advice.”

Quinn sits down, and puts her head in her hands.

“Rachel fucking Berry thinks the sun shines out your goddamn ass, which I would not put past you, because you have an enormous ass. She had a crush on you in high school. You sang the gayest ass song in glee club, and now she might think you were into her,” Santana says. “Did I recap that correctly?”

“I don’t think our song was the gayest,” Quinn says.

“Do not even say the name of the song you’re thinking of, or I’m hanging up on you,” Santana says. “You know what that does to me.”

“You picked the song, Santana,” Quinn says. She’s overruled by a loud noise of protest.

“Listen to me, Q-Tip: if Rachel Berry truly comes home and busts down your door to ask you if you were into her in high school, you have to promise me that you’ll say yes, because I will murder you if you drag this stupid drama on any longer,” Santana says. “Think of the space-time continuum. Brittany’s parents study that shit for a living. If you fuck it up anymore, they’ll be out of jobs. Think about Brittany being sad.”

Quinn does think about Brittany being sad.

“What am I going to do after that?” Quinn asks, sighing. “Do I just…say I moved on?”

“I’m not a licensed therapist or anything, but I think you should fuck her within an inch of her life,” Santana says.

“Thank God you aren’t a therapist,” Quinn says, watching her computer screen change backgrounds to a recent photo of Beth.

“Just think, Q,” Santana says, laughing. “Maybe you’ll boost her ego into the stratosphere.”

-

The next morning, Quinn rolls out of bed and walks to the kitchen, where Rachel is making breakfast for the two of them, like she has since they came back from Lima. There’s bacon, and a cup of coffee is waiting for her.

“Good morning, Quinn,” Rachel says cheerily, depositing a plate of food in front of her. There’s the aforementioned bacon, eggs, and a slice of toast.

“Morning,” Quinn says, taking a sip of her coffee. “How was the shoot?”

“It was good,” Rachel says, then laughs. “Jimmy kept joking about his new television show. ”

“His GLAAD Awards bait?” Quinn asks, smiling as Rachel giggles some more.

“I told him that I didn’t need him competing with our show,” Rachel says. The way she says our show hits Quinn in a place she didn’t expect, drawing a deep breath.

“What’s your favorite song?” Quinn asks, and Rachel laughs even more, settling across from Quinn at the kitchen island and pulling over a gross bran cereal of some kind.

“You’d have to narrow that one down,” Rachel says, smiling beautifully. The sun is in full force behind her, lighting up her face better than any tech could do on set.

“What was your favorite song from glee?” Quinn asks, and Rachel kind of frowns, looking down at her cereal. Quinn frowns too, and realizes that perhaps Rachel is just as put off by thinking about some of their songs. “I mean, unless it’s like, a painful experience…”

“No, uh,” Rachel says, then sighs. “No. It’s “Keep Holding On,” probably,” Rachel says. “My second favorite is “Faithfully,” which I suppose is unsurprising. I usually just say that one.”

Quinn pauses, stopping in her eating and looking at Rachel carefully.

“I think “Keep Holding On” was one of the first times we ever really united as a group, and I always enjoyed those numbers so much,” Rachel says. “Admittedly, I had to bully everyone into performing it. But it turned out well.”

“You were so nice to me,” Quinn says, shaking her head and laughing slightly.

“It’s over, Quinn,” Rachel says, reaching out to grab Quinn’s hand and smiling. “Don’t go into your brooding space about it.”

“I don’t have a brooding space,” Quinn says, sighing as Rachel giggles.

“You do a little bit,” Rachel says, pointing at Quinn’s face with her spoon. “Your face goes like this, and you just kind of dead eye people. You’ve done that forever.”

“Oh, great,” Quinn says. She shoves a strip of bacon in her mouth as she rolls her eyes at Rachel’s impression of her.

“What was your favorite glee song?” Rachel asks, then. Quinn has a million answers roll through her head, but she finally lands on a semi-safe sounding one.

“Probably when Santana and Brittany did “Landslide” with Ms. Holliday,” Quinn says, shrugging. “I had to buy Santana a vat of ice cream afterwards and listen to her cry and talk in Spanish for hours.”

“Was that the first time Santana showed her feelings?” Rachel asks.

Quinn nods, as she chews her bacon, and so Rachel keeps talking.

“Seems a bit silly,” Rachel says. Quinn looks at her curiously. “I mean, it was pretty clear that they were in love, even back then. I don’t know why Santana felt she had to keep it a secret.”

“Because she was gay,” Quinn says. “I mean, I get that. She was scared. It didn’t help that Finn outed her like, ten minutes later.”

“That was not one of his finest moments,” Rachel says, tilting her head in agreement. “Did you have any girls in Lima you had your eyes on? Looking back on it, I imagine you were interested in Santana.”

“That’s disgusting,” Quinn says, around a mouthful of her eggs, which she is studiously watching on her plate.

“You slept with her,” Rachel reminds Quinn, laughing. Quinn swallows and glares at Rachel, who doesn’t seem that bothered.

“Years later, and out of loneliness and sadness,” Quinn says. Rachel seems to consider this, looking upwards and thinking. It’s adorable, as a small smile plays across her face. Quinn grips her fork tighter as she tries not to stare.

“Brittany, then? Or Mercedes? That would be awkward, considering you lived together,” Rachel says. Quinn laughs.

“Yeah, if I had had one impure thought about Brittany, Santana would have shot me,” Quinn says. “And no on Mercedes.” 

“Well, how many other girls did you associate with? Maybe another Cheerio? I never bothered to learn their names,” Rachel says. “One of the Skanks?”

“Don’t remind me of the Skanks,” Quinn says, laughing. “God, my hair was pink, Rachel.”

“It didn’t look so bad,” Rachel says, laughing as well. “It was edgy, and I would venture to say it was sexy.”

“I liked you, Rachel,” Quinn says, and it falls out of her mouth so quickly that she doesn’t even think it over before it does. Rachel’s face practically concaves, she looks so shocked. Her mouth drops open, and she drops her spoon.

“You…what?” Rachel asks, blinking rapidly and staring at Quinn. Quinn sighs, glancing around the room before looking Rachel in the eye again, trying to steel up her spine and just, say it. The space time continuum; Brittany being sad.

“I liked you,” Quinn says, sighing. “I mean, I drew naked photos of you. I tried to break you up with your boyfriends like seven times.”

“What?” Rachel says, and Quinn suspects for a second that she’s broken, except for the way Rachel’s eyes are moving back and forth between Quinn’s pulling it all together

“I just…you know,” Quinn says, sighing. “It was a high school crush, but I admired you a lot and I was a mess, and I pulled your pigtails, as it were.” 

“Quinn Fabray liked me,” Rachel says, kind of wondrously, which is scary. Quinn gives a shaky laugh, looking down at her eggs. “The prettiest girl in school liked me.”

“You shouldn’t - ” Quinn says, then cracks her neck to get the tension out. “You were and are very pretty, Rachel. I hated when you called me that.”

Rachel just stares at her, looking gobsmacked and ridiculously happy at the same time. Quinn stares back, trying to reel in her feelings of wanting to reach out and touch Rachel. To make her feel it, like she had tried to do after “Here’s to Us.” Rachel seems to snap out of her stupor briefly, sitting up very straight.

“Oh my God, I tried to make you go to my wedding when you had feelings for me,” Rachel says, covering her mouth up. “And then you got hit by a car! And…your…oh my God, your face, when we talked in the hallway, and when I asked you to ask Finn out, and - ” 

“Hey,” Quinn says, clearing her throat and stopping Rachel’s ramble. “It’s over. Don’t brood about it.”

“I’m so sorry, Quinn,” Rachel says, like she might fucking cry about hurting Quinn’s feelings even though Quinn had tortured her for years. “I can’t believe this. You liked me, and I liked you.”

“And we still dated the same three boys anyways,” Quinn says, laughing. 

“We could have dated in high school,” Rachel says. “Can you imagine?”

Rachel is smiling, joking about it. But Quinn had imagined it plenty in her life. She tries to keep a smile on her face, tries to laugh too. Rachel, thankfully, doesn’t seem to notice.

“The space-time continuum probably would have exploded.”